Formula One’s governing FIA has said drivers will be allowed to make political statements only in “exceptional” circumstances after seeking to clarify its contentious new law.
The sporting federation recently updated its rules to prevent “political, religious or personal” remarks being made without prior approval.
However, the FIA has attracted a fierce backlash from a number of drivers – with seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton this week insisting he will not be silenced, and Lando Norris accusing F1’s rulers of treating drivers like school children.
But in a move to clarify the law – which has threatened to cast a shadow over the new season – the FIA has responded with a three-page document sent to the grid’s 10 teams on Friday.
The document says drivers will still be able to “express their views on any political, religious or personal matter” in “their own space”, and outside of a race, via their social media channels or during an interview.
However, drivers will face sanctions if they oppose the law while on track – such as during the national anthem before a race or on the podium.
But, in an apparent move to appease growing unrest, the FIA said that in “exceptional” circumstances it “may authorise a participant to make a statement at an international competition that would otherwise be prohibited” with a request submitted four weeks in advance of an event.
It adds that the driver must “provide reason(s) why such permission should be granted”, and that each request will be judged on a “case-by-case basis”.