Lewis Hamilton says “nothing will stop him” from speaking out after the FIA introduced new rules banning drivers from making “political, religious and personal statements”.
Speaking at the presentation of the 2023 Mercedes car for the upcoming season at Silverstone, the seven-time world champion appeared unimpressed by the new regulations introduced by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) in December.
“Nothing will stop me from speaking about the things that are close to my heart,” Hamilton said. “Sport has a responsibility to speak up and create awareness on important issues, especially when we travel to different places. So nothing changes.”
The FIA updated its International Sporting Code and banned the display of political, religious and personal expressions unless previously authorized in writing. Drivers who do not follow the rules risk both financial and sporting penalties.
Hamilton has regularly used his platform to raise awareness of human rights issues around the world. At the 2020 Tuscan Grand Prix, he wore a black t-shirt with “Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor” written on the front.
He has previously ridden a rainbow helmet in the Middle East to promote LGBTQI+ rights in Qatar and spoke about how sport needs to do more to raise awareness of human rights abuses.
The 38-year-old added that he didn’t want to take any penalty points for “speaking up” but said: “I’ll still speak my mind and as we still have this platform there’s still a lot of things that we have to tackle.”
“The support from (Formula 1 CEO) Stefano (Domenicali) has been amazing I think and I think all the drivers have been very aligned with freedom of expression and yes I think we’re all aligned with that.”
Hamilton’s teammate George Russell was also unfazed by the new rules, which he described as “silly”. Russell, a director of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association, which represents F1 drivers, criticized the new rules and hoped they would be resolved before the start of the 2023 season.
“I’m not sure why the FIA took such a stance,” he said.
“It’s completely unnecessary in sport and in the world we currently live in. We will not restrict our views or our thoughts because of some stupid regulation.”
The 2023 season starts on March 5th in Bahrain.