Days before Hamilton came fourth at the Australian Grand Prix, behind Mercedes team-mate George Russell, Red Bull’s Sergio Perez and the winner, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, drivers were reminded of a rule in an unusually long meeting.

FIA race director Niels Wittich told them that jewellery including “body piercing or metal neck chains” would not be allowed during on-track sessions.

 

But Hamilton said: "I don't have any plans on removing them.

"They are personal things. You should be able to be who you are.

"There is stuff that I cannot move.

"I literally cannot even take these out. These ones on my right ear are welded in so I would have to get it chopped off. They will be staying."

Why Lewis Hamilton backed off

The seven-time world champion said on his radio during the Australian Grand Prix that his Mercedes team had “put him in a difficult position”.

Asked to explain his frustrated radio message and whether it had related to him being behind Russell, Hamilton replied: “Basically, I couldn’t race for position because the car was overheating, so I had to back off.”

Russell highlighted the importance of having strong reliability after claiming his first podium since joining Mercedes, a result which has lifted him to a surprise second in the championship. 

"I think it's a credit to everyone back at Brackley and Brixworth because it doesn't matter how fast your car is, if you don't make it to the end, then you're not there to pick up the pieces,” Russell said. 

“This weekend, we were probably the fifth-fastest team, behind McLaren, behind Alpine and here we are standing P3. I only just realised somebody told me that I am P2 in the championship which is just crazy to think. 

“We've got to be really proud of the job we've done so far with the performance we have and we believe we can get there but it's not going to happen overnight and it's going to be a number of races before we start closing the gap.” 

Hamilton and Max Verstappen’s jewellery joke

The ban on jewellery had previously brought rivals Hamilton and Verstappen together in laughter.

Hamilton teased: “Well I’ve got certain piercings that I really just can’t take out, that not many people know of… Nah I’m kidding! 

“It’s been the rule forever, since I’ve been here it’s been the rule, so nothing new. I’m just going to come with more jewellery next week.” 

Hamilton’s former Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas quipped that the “stewards can take it off”. 

Asked the same question, Verstappen replied deadpan: “I would be too heavy if I wore jewellery, so it’s not possible.”

A smiling Hamilton responded: “I know you have a nipple piercing man, come on…” before Verstappen laughed and said “you want to see it again?!”

Verstappen blasts ‘unacceptable’ Red Bull failure

The world champion was forced into a DNF for the second time in three races this season.

Verstappen was left hugely frustrated and said Red Bull cannot afford for such failures to occur if he is to have any chance of successfully defending his world title this year. 

“We are already miles behind,” Verstappen conceded. “I don’t even want to think about the championship fight at the moment. 

“It is more important just to finish races. Of course, today was in general a bad day again. We don’t have the pace. I was just managing my tyres to bring it to the end. I knew I could not fight Charles so there was no point in putting pressure on him. 

“We didn’t even finish the race so it is pretty frustrating and unacceptable. I knew there was a problem so there was always going to be a question mark in finishing the race."