Stefano Domenicali, F1 CEO, has responded to the FIA’s latest change to the Sporting Code, which prohibits drivers from making political or personal statements without permission.
This change was made at the end of last season and has sparked significant discussion and backlash in the weeks and months since.
With the first round of 2023 less than a month away, it is almost inevitable that this topic will become increasingly discussed and scrutinised.
As a result, it will be crucial for the FIA to clarify their stance and prevent the situation from spiralling into another negative story for the F1 Governing body.
Stefano Domenicali insists that Formula 1 will not change its stance on drivers being allowed to express themselves, as quoted by The Guardian:
“Everyone wants to talk, so to have the platform to say what they want in the right way is better. 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, [and] different views.
“I cannot say one is right, or 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. That should be the line of our sport, to give everyone the chance to speak in the right way, not with aggressive tones or to offend but with respect…
“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.”
Domenicali’s comments offer some assurance for fans and drivers, but it remains unclear what the FIA ‘clarifying’ their stance will reveal.
The FIA is expected to meet with the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association before Bahrain and explain the specifics of this new regulation.
Ultimately, irrespective of any clarifications, the drivers will likely behave similarly to how they did before.
Especially in light of its current disagreements with Formula 1 over Andretti, the FIA cannot afford the bad publicity that would come if they punished drivers for voicing their opinions.
Regardless, the true significance of this change to the Sporting Code will become clearer when the season begins.