Lewis Hamilton was defiant regarding the FIA’s latest decision to clamp down on jewellery being worn by Formula 1 drivers, refusing to remove his, even at the risk of not being allowed to race.
The seven-times Formula 1 World Champion suggested he could be ruled out of Sunday’s inaugural Miami Grand Prix if the sport’s governing body enforced a ban on piercings and jewellery.
The Mercedes driver spoke after race director Niels Wittich issued a reminder to all teams and officials that wearing body piercings and metal neck chains was prohibited during competition and could be checked.
Hamilton, the sport’s most successful driver and biggest name in America, has said he cannot remove some of his piercings.
The 37-year-old said he was prepared to sign a waiver instead to take personal responsibility and suggested all parties had “bigger fish to fry”.
Hamilton displayed his resistance
The Briton emphasised his resistance by wearing rings on every finger, three watches (set to different time zones), a bangle, strings of necklaces and studs in both ears. A further nose piercing was hidden by his face mask.
“I couldn’t get any more jewellery on today,” he said, adding that he felt the clampdown was almost a backward step at a time when the sport and governing FIA should be focused on its latest big breakthrough in America.
“This is such a small thing,” he said. “It seems unnecessary for us to get into this spat.”
Asked what the solution might be to an apparent impasse, Hamilton indicated there was only so much he could do.
“I can’t remove at least two of them,” he said. “One I can’t really explain where it is. But what I can say is it’s platinum that I have, so it’s non-magnetic, it’s never been a safety issue in the past. I’ve had in 16 years so many MRI scans and not had to take out the platinum.
“And if they stop me then so be it. We’ve got a spare driver… there’s lots to do in the city anyway so I’ll be good either way.”
The FIA adamant jewellery cause risk
Wittich had explained in his note that the wearing of jewellery underneath the mandatory flameproof clothing could reduce heat transmission protection and increase the risk of burn injuries.
He said it could also hinder medical intervention and treatment due to the risk of ‘snagging’ when safety equipment such as the helmet, balaclava or overalls were removed.
“In the case that medical imaging is required to inform diagnosis following an accident the presence of jewellery on the body can cause significant complication and delay,” added the German.
Hamilton said he had tried without success to speak to FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem, who was elected in December, and wanted to assure the Emirati he was an ally rather than an opponent.
“I’ll try and speak to him before the race,” he said.
Hamilton backs down later on
However several reports have emerged that Hamilton has had discussions with the FIA medical commission following his statements where it was clarified to him that the decision was purely safety related and has nothing to do with him as a person.
The Mercedes ace reportedly agreed to remove whatever he could from the jewellery he was wearing in Miami ahead of the first free practice session.
The FIA gave Hamilton an exemption until Monaco with regards to other jewellery items that cannot be removed easily.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, Additional reporting by Grandprix247)