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end racism protest fia bottas 2023 f1

Bottas: F1 drivers should have the right to talk about what we want

end racism protest fia bottas 2023 f1

Valtteri Bottas is one of the first of the current Formula 1 to comment publically about FIA-imposed restrictions on what they can and cannot say, in what is seen as an attempt to curtail protests or statements made by drivers.

The Alfa Romeo driver’s comments come in the wake of the past couple of seasons in which Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton used F1 as a platform to highlight social injustices and causes they felt deserved global attention.

But the FIA, under Mohammed Ben Sulayem, has been intent on flexing its muscles on multiple fronts that, incidentally, have angered just about everyone in the F1; the driver ‘muzzling’ being one of those contentious issues.

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So much so that questions are being asked of the FIA directive by human rights groups, with the matter also raised in British parliament last week as well as by the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD).

With regards to F1 drivers’ freedom of speech, or lack thereof, this is what the FIA put out: “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.

“Failure to comply with the instructions of the FIA regarding the appointment and participation of persons during official ceremonies at any Competition counting towards a FIA Championship.”

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Speaking to Expressen, F1 elder statesman 33-year-old Bottas said: “Personally, I don’t like politics. I like to do what I love, which is racing, but at the same time, politics is part of today’s society.

“I think Formula 1 has done a good job of bringing attention to some of these issues and many drivers have raised their voices, including Sebastian. I don’t understand why they want to control us. I think we should have the right to talk about what we want. That’s how I see it, but we’ll see what happens,” concluded Bottas.

The debate about how much drivers should be allowed to say or do regarding politics and social issues during a Grand Prix weekend divides F1 fans, some say it’s fine others are against it.

Former F1 driver turned pundit, quoted in the Expressen report, David Coulthard does not see the harm in the restrictions: “Sport is watched by millions of people all over the world and therefore it can be used as a platform to do something good but as an athlete, you are also very lucky to get paid to do things that others would do for nothing at all and it’s a bit like an acceptance speech at the Oscars.

“If everyone uses the opportunity to make a political statement, there is no issue that is not important to someone. So we either have to mention everything or maybe it’s better not to say anything at all and concentrate on the sport.

“I understand that there are people who promote freedom of speech and all that, and that is absolutely an important thing to keep in mind, but I also think that we have to remember that it is the sporting rules that we are talking about, it is not the debate rules or some political regulation,” ventured Coulthard.

With Ben Sulayem fighting multiple fires on various fronts, for now, he has not commented any further on the matter but, at the same time, Bottas is the first to do so publically and so critically, the Finn this year in his tenth season in the top flight.

Valtteri Bottas is one of the first of the current Formula 1 to comment publically about FIA-imposed restrictions on what they can and cannot say, in what is seen as an attempt to curtail protests or statements made by drivers.