David Coulthard backs FIA decision over new 2023 F1 rule change
Lewis Hamilton on difficult season for Mercedes in November
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David Coulthard has appeared to defend the FIA’s decision to introduce political bans at races, which is a move that particularly affects Lewis Hamilton. The former McLaren driver said it may be better to “concentrate on the sport” instead of making statements before events.
The Scot stressed it may be better “not to say anything” if only some topics are allowed to be discussed. However, he still vowed that “freedom of speech” is critical and that there will be “no issue” if everyone is allowed to speak openly.
He said: “It’s a bit like an acceptance speech at the Oscars. If everyone uses the opportunity to make a political statement, there is no issue that is not important to someone. So we either have to mention everything, or maybe it’s better not to say anything at all and concentrate on the sport. As an athlete, you are very lucky to be paid to do things that others would do for nothing.
“We also have to remember that it is the sporting rules that we are talking about, not some set of political regulations.”
Seven-time champion Hamilton has campaigned openly against racism since the start of the 2020 season. Political statements were encouraged by FIA bosses at one stage with drivers taking the knee ahead of events under the ‘We Race as One’ banner.
However, the FIA has now banned drivers from taking a stance ahead of races in a bid to keep the governing body “neutral”. Drivers can make some statements if they receive permission from the FIA ahead of a Grand Prix.
Drivers are expected to receive penalties if they break the rules meaning none will likely take the risk. FIA boss Mohammed ben Sulayem appeared to push drivers into using their social media accounts instead of making gestures at racetracks to push for change.
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He explained: “You can use sport for peace reasons … but one thing we don’t want is to have the FIA as a platform for private personal agenda. We will divert from the sport. What does the driver do best? Driving. They are so good at it, and they make the business, they make the show, they are the stars. Nobody is stopping them.
“There are other platforms to express what they want. Everybody has this and they are most welcome to go through the process of the FIA, to go through that.”
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