- A clause was added to the latest version of the FIA’s International Sporting Code, which covers motorsport categories sanctioned by the organization.
- In recent years several drivers, most prominently Lewis Hamilton and the now retired Sebastian Vettel, have used their platform to promote societal and environmental issues.
- The new clause specifically outlines that any protest not approved by the FIA will be dimly received.
FIA says drivers now need permission for "political" protests
The governing body of motorsport, the FIA, has outlined that drivers will now need permission before making any form of political, religious or personal protest.
A clause was added to the latest version of the FIA’s International Sporting Code, which covers motorsport categories sanctioned by the organization. That includes the likes of Formula 1—and its junior categories—along with the World Endurance Championship and World Rally Championship.
Under Article 12 of the ISC, which covers "offenses or infringements and penalties," a new subclause has been added to Article 12.2, which specifically relates to "Breach of Rules."
The new Article 12.2.1.n outlines that the FIA will have considered the rules to be breached if there is a ‘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.’
In recent years several drivers, most prominently Lewis Hamilton and the now retired Sebastian Vettel, have used their platform to promote societal and environmental issues.
Hamilton wore a rainbow helmet upon Formula 1’s maiden visit to Qatar in 2021, a country to which the championship is returning in 2023, and also donned it in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi. Vettel sported a "Same Love" T-shirt during the build-up to the Hungarian Grand Prix in 2021 and used his profile to highlight issues such as tar mining in Canada and rising sea levels affecting Miami.
“I realized that wearing a simple T-shirt with a message can promote discussion about issues that matter,” said Vettel earlier this year. “If everyone does something and we all try to raise awareness in our circle of friends and surroundings, then together we can make a difference and influence those around us.”
The FIA’s International Sporting Code already contained Statutes that competitors had to comply with, though they remained broad. The new clause specifically outlines that any protest not approved by the FIA will be dimly received. The presence of Article 12.2.1.n means that drivers could face a sporting sanction—rather than just a financial hit—if they are deemed to have broken the rules.
When asked for further detail on this week’s changes, the FIA responded: “The ISC has been updated in alignment with the political neutrality of sport as a universal fundamental ethical principle of the Olympic Movement, enshrined in the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Code of Ethics, together with the principle of the universality set out in Article 1.2.
“Additionally as stated in Article 1.2 of the FIA Statutes, the FIA shall promote the protection of human rights and human dignity, and refrain from manifesting discrimination on account of race, skin color, gender, sexual orientation, ethnic or social origin, language, religion, philosophical or political opinion, family situation or disability in the course of its activities and from taking any action in this respect.
“The FIA will focus on underrepresented groups in order to achieve a more balanced representation of gender and race and to create a more diverse and inclusive culture.”
In addition a new Article 12.2.1.o says a breach will also be considered if there is a "failure to comply with the instructions of the FIA regarding the appointment and participation of persons during official ceremonies at any Competition counting towards an FIA Championship."
The FIA is run by Mohammed Ben Sulayem, who was elected to the role in December 2021.