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FIA ban on protesting is a damaging mistake

FIA ban on protesting is a damaging mistake

FIA ban on protesting is a damaging mistake

FIA ban on protesting is a damaging mistake

The FIA has taken further steps to muzzle drivers racing in sanctioned competitions, including Formula 1, by now demanding written permission before they can make political statements during race weekends.

This weekend there has been pushback from multiple sources to the situation, with Sebastian Vettel branding the rule change a 'nonsense'.

Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez were also vocal on the situation, with the former stating his belief that the ruling was 'a little unnecessary.

Freedom of speech is a basic human right and although there will be those that welcome the FIA's move to distance sport and politics, there are undoubted negative consequences.

Firstly, there are no boundaries to this ruling. Would the FIA have been required to approve Mercedes' political statement in changing its livery from silver to black in support of 'Black Lives Matter' in 2020?

The wearing of rainbow shoelaces, commonly viewed as a show of support for the LGBTQ+ community, would also now likely require pre-written authorisation.

There is certainly a time and a place for statements and political messaging, and F1 and the FIA have been fair with the drivers in recent years by allowing opportunities for such expression while expecting events such as the podium ceremony, to be respected.

READ MORE...FIA issue ban in further clampdown after Hamilton and Vettel statements

Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel have been two shining examples of how to promote causes in the right ways in recent years.

Although there have been some missteps, with Hamilton causing a clampdown on podium regulations after wearing a t-shirt demanding justice for Breonna Taylor, for instance, the pair have been widely praised for their efforts.

It can only be hoped the FIA does not hold back in approving further campaigning by drivers, whether this is wearing alternate helmet designs, for example, that may carry a cause within its artistry.

FIA protecting controversial F1 events?

It is unclear why the FIA has chosen now as the moment to ban unapproved political messaging, but it is possible one of the motivating factors could be the increase in grand prix venues deemed to be controversial choices.

Bahrain has long been viewed in this category but the recent additions of Saudi Arabia and Qatar have caused eyebrows to be raised.

It has led to suggestions that F1 is being used for sports-washing purposes given the atrocious human rights records of these countries.

Vettel has been one of the most outspoken drivers in recent times

Is it also coincidental the FIA has made its move just days after the conclusion of the highly successful but controversial FIFA World Cup in Qatar?

By not allowing the drivers freedom of speech, the FIA is severely limiting the positive change that F1, the drivers and the teams have all expressed a desire to create.

There is no doubt that balancing political messaging without overpowering the sporting competition is a fine balancing act.

But on this occasion and with these actions, the FIA is indicating that money and not ethics come first on its list of priorities.


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