Russell slates FIA’s ‘silly and totally unnecessary’ free speech ban

George Russell has hit out at the ban on F1 drivers’ free speech, describing the FIA’s regulation as “silly” and “totally unnecessary”. 
George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 21, Brazilian Grand Prix, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sprint
George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd…

F1’s governing body the FIA is expected to clarify the rule it revised over the winter in the coming days. 

The change to The International Sporting Code prohibits drivers from making “personal, religious and political statements” without prior written consent. 

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Speaking after the launch of Mercedes’ 2023 F1 car, Russell, who is the Grand Prix Drivers Association director, slammed the regulation. 

“I’m not too sure why the FIA have taken a stance like this, I think it’s totally unnecessary in the sport and the world we live in at the moment,” he said. 

“Naturally we are seeking clarification and I trust it will be resolved. I’d like to think it’s been some kind of misunderstanding, but on that I’m not too sure.

“We’re not going to limit our views or our thoughts because of some silly regulation. We’re all here to have free speech and share whatever views we may have.” 

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 on the grid. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 19, United States Grand Prix, Austin,
Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 on the grid. Formula 1 World…

Russell’s Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton insisted the ban will not prevent him from speaking out on issues he cares about. 

"Nothing will stop me from speaking on the things I am passionate about," said the seven-time world champion. 

"The sport has a responsibility to speak out and create awareness on important topics, particularly as we are travelling to different places. So nothing changes.”

Several other drivers including reigning world champion Max Verstappen, Lando Norris, Valtteri Bottas and Alex Albon have all criticised the rule in recent weeks. 

The regulation is one of a series of controversies circling FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem, who wrote to teams last week to announce he would be stepping back from day-to-day involvement in F1. 

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