Bottas: FIA driver clampdown still “unnecessary” despite clarification

Bottas: FIA driver clampdown still “unnecessary” despite clarification

An updated International Sporting Code issued ahead of the 2023 season that applies across top-level motorsport now classes the following as a rule breach: “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.”

This has received almost universal condemnation across the F1 paddock, with Red Bull team boss Christian Horner warning of the effects of turning people into “robots” while McLaren’s Lando Norris has alluded to drivers being treated as though they are “in school”.

On Friday, the FIA did issue a clarification concerning what is and is not permitted by the updated clause.

Chiefly, drivers will be able to comment on personal, political or religious matters online, in selected interviews and when responding to direct questions during press conferences.

But any expressions are prohibited as part of the drivers’ parade, during the national anthems, on the podium and in the post-race cooldown room.

Asked for his response to the FIA bulletin, Bottas said he spoke for the rest of the grid when insisting that the changes to the ISC in the first instance were ”unnecessary”.

The Alfa Romeo driver said during a press conference on the opening day of pre-season testing in Bahrain: “I saw the clarification.

“Of course, there are things at least it has made clear, but I still do think it’s a bit unnecessary and I think I’m speaking on behalf of all the drivers.

“We haven’t had a [Grand Prix Drivers’ Association] meeting yet but hopefully soon to discuss.”

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12

Photo by: Erik Junius

Alpine driver Esteban Ocon admitted he was not up to speed with the FIA clarification but said he would continue to “speak out on a subject that is important to me regardless”.

Likewise, Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff reckoned Lewis Hamilton’s clear intention to continue his advocacy regardless of any clampdown would remain immune to change.

Haas racer Kevin Magnussen added that he would like to see free speech wherever he and F1 travels to.

The Dane said: “It’s something that we need to talk about as drivers and see what we really think about it.

“I’m from a part of the world where free speech is a thing.

“I like that and think that’s a good value and would like to see that everywhere I go.

“But that’s not always how the world is.”

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