Remember Formula 1’s motto – “We Race As One?” It is safe to assume that now the FIA are gnawing away at the very foundational pillars of the motto.
We Race As One…Unless Convenient
The FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) has made amended the International Sporting Code (ISC). The insertion of a new article by the FIA pre-actively bans any political, religious, or personal statements made by drivers, unless pre-approved (with written permission). This change has not been given a warm welcome by the F1 community under any means.
FIA Has No Room For The Hamiltons and Vettels in F1
Formula 1 is not alien to political statements or statements of solidarity. Four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel donned a ‘We Race As One’ shirt with pride colours at the 2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix. He didn’t shy away from making a blunt statement at the Hungary Grand Prix by wearing a helmet with the pride colours, in protest of Hungary’s abysmal human rights record when it comes to the LGBTQIA+ community. When faced with the threats of sanctions and bans, Vettel simply stated, “They can do whatever they want to me I don’t care, I would do it again.” It remains left to see if other drivers will maintain such a defiant attitude after the recent legal amendment to the ISC.
Another driver who has never shied away from standing up for the right cause is seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton. Like Vettel, Hamilton has been a strong ally for the LGBTQIA+ community, with him strategically wearing his pride helmet at the controversy laden Saudi Arabia Grand Prix. Additionally, Hamilton has pioneered the cause of racial equality in F1 and wore shirts appealing for racial justice for individuals like Breonna Taylor – a victim of police and racial oppression. The Silver Arrows had in fact changed the colours of its livery from their traditional silver to black to support the Black Lives Matter movement before reverting back in 2022.
What Exactly Does The Amended ISC State?
The new article states – “The general making and display of political, religious and personal statements or comments notably in violation of the general principle of neutrality promoted by the FIA under its Statutes, unless previously approved in writing by the FIA for International Competitions, or by the relevant ASN for National Competitions within their jurisdiction.”
The amended ISC isn’t solely confined to F1. Instead, all of motor racing that takes place under the FIA banner fall under the amended code. Failure to adhere to such FIA instructions (especially, during official ceremonies) will invite penalization.
FIA Action At The Wake Of Football Controversy?
The FIA believes this change adds to the element of neutrality behind racing. This comes at a time when the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) faced scrutiny for not allowing nations to enter the playing field with any identifiable symbol of the LGBTQIA+ community. Many teams wished to highlight the World Cup host Qatar’s treatment towards sexual minorities and deplorable track record of labour rights for the World Cup. Moving forward, there is legitimate doubt whether we’ll see as many special helmets and shirts on the F1 grid as seen before.
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