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today is Apr 01, 2023

Formula 1 drivers are seeking clarity from the sport’s governing body over new restrictions on what they can and cannot say.

As RaceFans revealed in December, a revision to the International Sporting Code for 2023 forbids drivers from “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.”

Logan Sargeant, who will make his debut in F1 this year, said drivers want the FIA to explain exactly how far the clampdown will go.

“We’re still waiting for further clarity from the FIA on what it exactly means,” he told media including RaceFans at today’s Williams launch event, adding he hopes there will be a “reasonable solution for everyone.”

Gallery: Williams reveal 2023 F1 livery Last year F1 withdrew the ‘WeRaceAsOne’ initiative it introduced two years earlier, in which drivers had the opportunity to express their views on topics such as diversity. Alexander Albon said the new clampdown, which came 12 months after Mohammed Ben Sulayem was elected as FIA president, impinged upon the drivers’ right to speak freely.

“One of the main things that I took from it was more the clarity of the situation, because it seems quite a broad subject,” he said.

“As we know, politics and stances, it seems it’s a very sensitive area. So we need clarity from the FIA on what they’re trying to tell us.

“On a personal side it is somewhat confusing, actually. I think for you guys maybe it’s the same. But of course we were very much for WeRaceAsOne and all these kind of situations. And now it seems like Formula 1 or FIA are trying to go away from that.”

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The drivers and the FIA “need to be open in dialogue about what they’re trying to do,” said Albon. “But of course we need to be able to speak freely to some extent. I’m sure we’re going to get clarity later what they’re trying to say… [in the regulations].”

“With who we are, and the media, and the engagement that we have to our fans, and to people who work in Formula 1, a lot of people come to us and look at us as spokespeople for issues around the world,” Albon added. “And I do feel like it is a responsibility for the drivers to make people aware of these kind of situations.”

Max Verstappen joined the criticism of the FIA’s new stance last week. “I’m normally not that outspoken because first of all it’s tough as a racing driver to be fully committed to that as well in terms of going into everything and making sure that you know all the facts right,” he told Sky.

“But I don’t think it is necessary because in a way you are basically making sure that people are not allowed to speak any more, which I think we should be allowed. Of course some people will speak a bit more, some not, but it was probably a bit unnecessary.”

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