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today is Apr 02, 2023

Lewis Hamilton says the FIA’s new restrictions on how drivers may express themselves will not stop him from speaking out on issues he cares about.

As RaceFans revealed in December the FIA added new clauses to its International Sporting Code, the rules which govern all series it runs, restricting what statements competitors may make.

The revised rules forbid “the general making and display of political, religious and personal statements or comments notably in violation of the general principle of neutrality promoted by the FIA under its Statutes, unless previously approved in writing by the FIA for International Competitions, or by the relevant ASN for National Competitions within their jurisdiction”.

Hamilton has been one of the most outspoken drivers in F1 and used his status to advance a number of causes. He is most vocal on the subject of diversity and racism, and has previously worn T-shirts at races showing his support for Black Lives Matter.

He said he wasn’t surprised by the FIA’s clampdown but insisted it won’t change how he conducts himself.

“I wasn’t really watching the news over the winter, but I heard it,” he told media including RaceFans after the launch of Mercedes’ new W14 today. “It doesn’t surprise me.

“But nothing will stop me from speaking on the things that I’m passionate about and issues that there are. I feel the sport does have a responsibility still, always, to speak out on things, to create awareness and on important topics particularly as we’re travelling to all these different places. And so nothing changes for me.”

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The FIA has not indicated what penalties drivers may face if they are found to have transgressed the new rules. Hamilton admitted it is not clear what the consequences might be.

2023 Mercedes W14 - Lewis Hamilton colours Gallery: Mercedes present new W14 F1 car for 2023 season “I think it would be silly to say that I would want to get penalty points for speaking out on things,” Hamilton said. “But as I said to you, I’m still going to be speaking my mind and as we still have this platform, there’s still a lot of things that we need to tackle.”

Other drivers including Max Verstappen, Kevin Magnussen and Valtteri Bottas have already criticised the FIA’s clampdown on their freedom to express themselves and urged the governing body to address their concerns over the new rule. The pressure on the FIA to shift its stance increased last week when Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali said the series will not “put a gag” on drivers and he expects the FIA to clarify its new regulation.

Hamilton says F1 drivers share similar views on the FIA’s stance and is pleased Domenicali has spoken out against it.

“The support of Stefano I think has been amazing. I think all the drivers have been very much aligned on freedom of speech and I think we are all aligned on that.”

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