Valtteri Bottas defends Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel

As of the start of this year drivers racing in FIA governed championships are banned from making political statements, unless granted permission by the FIA.

Several Formula 1 figures have shared their views on the FIA’s recent controversial update to its International Sporting Code (ISC), with Valtteri Bottas having gone as far as to question why the governing body are attempting to “control” racing drivers.

Over the last few years, the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel have used their platform in Formula 1 to promote and raise awareness for several campaigns and communities, most notably the LGBTQ+ community and human rights in the Middle East.

Whilst many other governing bodies in various sports have attempted to restrict athletes from making political statements, the FIA have actually been praised in recent years for giving drivers the freedom to support campaigns that are in need of a global platform.

However, since it was announced at the end of last year that “the general making and display of political, religious and personal statements or comments” would be banned from 2023 onwards, the FIA have been heavily criticised for removing the drivers’ freedom of speech.

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Under the current ISC, drivers aren’t allowed to wear themed clothing in support of a campaign or a community, with any political action only being allowed should the FIA grant permission.

Bottas is one of the first F1 drivers to have spoken out against the governing body’s ban on political statements, with the Finnish driver believing that F1 drivers “should have a say in things if we want to”.

“I personally don’t like politics,” the Finn told the Swedish daily Expressen.

“What I love is racing, but politics is part of today’s society. I think F1 has done a good job of bringing attention to these kinds of issues and many drivers have taken a stand, including Sebastian.

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“I don’t understand why they want to control us. I think we should have a say in things if we want to. I’m looking at the big picture, but we’ll see what happens.”

Former F1 driver David Coulthard has a slightly different view on the update to the ISC and can understand why the governing body have done it, with it seemingly being a case of mentioning all political campaigns and communities, or “not to say anything at all”.

“It’s a bit like an acceptance speech at the Oscars,” he said.

“If everyone uses the opportunity to make a political statement, there is no issue that is not important to someone.

“So we either have to mention everything, or maybe it’s better not to say anything at all and concentrate on the sport. As an athlete, you are very lucky to be paid to do things that others would do for nothing,” the Scot added.

“We also have to remember that it is the sporting rules that we are talking about, not some set of political regulations.”

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Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko has also shared his view on the matter and appears to side with Bottas, with the Austrian believing that “everyone can express their opinion”, with F1 drivers knowing “what they have to say and how”.

“The drivers are responsible citizens who are in the global public eye and who know what they have to say and how,” Marko said.

“In general we are in a democratic society and everyone can express their opinion.”