Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff has spoken out about the FIA’s restriction on drivers making political statements during grand prix weekends, explaining that the new rules may not be as “harsh” as first suspected.
The FIA raised eyebrows back in December when it announced a ban on all “political, religious and personal statements” with the drivers now needing to seek prior consent from the FIA itself before making any statement at an event.
In recent years, drivers such as Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel have used their platform in F1 to raise awareness over matters such as equality and environmental concerns.
The new offence was outlined in an updated version of the FIA’s International Sporting Code, prohibiting in Article 12.2.1.n “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.”
While the move was quickly condemned by some as being draconian and unnecessary, Wolff believes that further talks may reveal that the rules may not be as jarring as was first suspected.
“I think we need to see how this really pans out, Wolff explained. “We understand that sports are not here to make politics but on the contrary, unite.
“I have no doubt that Mohammad [Ben Sulayem, FIA president] and the FIA mean well, to achieve the right things. It’s just about aligning that with the drivers who have been more outspoken in the past.
“Everytime Mohammad has spoken to Lewis, and the other way around, It has ended up in a positive conversation.
“So I have no doubt that once these people sit on the table together that things will not appear as harsh when they are being written down in the off-season.”