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F1 boss Stefano Domenicali has sided with Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen over the FIA’s decision to silence drivers ahead of the new season. The FIA have banned drivers from making political statements ahead of races to keep events “neutral”.

However, F1 chiefs have now questioned the decision after criticism from drivers and team bosses at car launches. Domenicali has even held talks with the GPDA in a bid to find a solution on the eve of the new season.

He said: “F1 will never put a gag on anyone. Everyone wants to talk so to have the platform to say what they want in the right way the better it is. We have a huge opportunity because of the position of our sport which is more and more global, multicultural and multivalued.

“We are talking about 20 drivers, 10 teams and many sponsors, they have different ideas, different views. I cannot say one is right, one is wrong but it is right, if needed, to give them a platform to discuss their opinions in an open way. We will not change that approach as a sport.”

The FIA has claimed drivers will have to receive written permission to make a stand ahead of Grands Prix. President Mohammed ben Sulayem has even urged F1’s stars to focus on the driving and use social media to push their beliefs.

READ MORE: FIA face driver revolt as Alex Albon insists ‘everyone concerned’


It comes after drivers have been vocal over a range of social issues on race weekend, most notably Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel. In particular, Hamilton has raised awareness of issues around racism and has taken tke knee ahead of events since 2020.

Domenicali’s comments are just the latest flashpoint between F1 and the FIA, with German site Sport 1 even suggesting recently that the sport’s owners Liberty Media want Ben Sulayem axed after a series of issues between both sides. Ex-Prodrive and Motorsport UK boss David Richards is understood to be their preferred replacement.

Domenicali, meanwhile, said F1 was “monitoring the situation” and had held talks with the Grand Prix Drivers Association (GPDA) to discuss concerns about drivers being gagged. However, the Italian boss stressed F1 was powerless to intervene as the FIA were responsible for the sport’s regulations.

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He explained: “We are talking about a regulation and the regulator is the FIA.

“I believe the FIA will clarify what has been stated, in terms of respecting certain places where you cannot do it. I am sure the FIA will share the same view as F1 but they are part of an Olympic federation so there are protocols to which they have to abide.”

A number of drivers have already voiced their concerns with the new ruling, with Max Verstappen saying last week: “Some people are more outspoken than others. I’m normally not outspoken of that 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. But I don’t think it (the ban) is necessary.

“In a way, you’re basically making sure people are not allowed to speak anymore which I think we should be allowed and of course, like I said before, some people will speak a bit more, some not. But it was probably a bit unnecessary.”

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff recently said he expected the FIA’s political statements ban to relax after further talks with drivers. He even admitted Hamilton had held “positive discussions” with Ben Sulayem on the issue in the past amid fears the Brit could be banned if he broke the rule in the 2023 season.

Donenicali’s position on the topic will likely raise more concerns about F1 and the FIA being divided after several arguments have dominated the headlines in recent weeks. F1 bosses were recently left angered after Ben Sulayem suggested a possible £16 billion ($20b) Saudi Arabian takeover bid was “inflated”.

Lawyers for F1 suggested they held the “exclusive” rights to market F1 but Ben Sulayem hit back that the championship was only on loan to the commercial rights holder, only sparking more tension between the two.