Lewis Hamilton has been the subject of a “personal” and “targeted” challenge by the FIA over the ban on jewellery, according to fellow F1 champion Sebastian Vettel.
Mercedes driver Hamilton, who is regularly adorned with a variety of jewellery items, has been given a two-race exemption to comply with the regulations.
Hamilton had initially been defiant when speaking at the drivers' press conference on Friday morning but come first practice for the inaugural Miami Grand Prix, he had removed as many of his piercings as possible, with only two remaining.
Four-time F1 champion Vettel believes Hamilton is being unfairly singled out. He said: “I think it is a bit unnecessary to blow this topic up.
"Probably at this stage, it is more of a personal thing and I feel, in a way, [it is] particularly targeted to Lewis.
“We spoke about underpants as well, but really is that the most exciting thing we can talk about? In a way, there is a concern for safety if you have stuff and the car does catch fire it would be unpleasant.
“To some degree, it is personal freedom and we are old enough to make our choices outside the car. We should [also] be old enough to make choices also inside the car.”
Hamilton seeking a solution
Hamilton revealed on Friday he had tried to make contact with FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem about the situation and expressed a willingness to “sign a waiver” to enable him to compete.
The seven-time champion has raced for 16 years without being asked to remove his jewellery and said drivers should have a right to show their “individuality”.
Speaking before Vettel’s comments, Hamilton said: “It seems unnecessary for us to get into this spat so I will try to communicate and work with Mohammed [Ben Sulayem, FIA president].
"I am here to be an ally of the sport, of Mohammed and Formula 1 and I think we have got bigger fish to fry, things to do and impact to have so that is where the focus should be."