Russell hits back at ‘silly’ ban on drivers’ free speech

George Russell is preparing to take on the 2023 F1 season for Mercedes alongside Lewis Hamilton

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George Russell gave an impassioned rebuttal of the FIA‘s ban on drivers making political statements, joining the growing consensus of drivers against the muzzling measure.

Ahead of the 2023 F1 season the FIA announced that drivers would have to get written permission before making “political, religious and personal statements or comments”, but Russell criticised the move at Mercedes‘ 2023 car launch.

Russell‘s been the director of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association (GPDA, the F1 drivers’ trade union), since 2021 when Romain Grosjean retired from F1.

“I’m not too sure why the FIA have taken a stance like this,” Russell told selected media, including Total-Motorsport.com. I think it’s totally unnecessary in the sport and in the world we live at the moment”

“But we’re not going to limit our views or our thoughts because of some silly regulation. We’re all here to have free speech and and share whatever views we may have.”

George Russell’s first time on track in the W14, Mercedes’ 2023 F1 car | Steve Etherington/Mercedes F1 Team

Drivers seeking clarification on ruling

With Sebastian Vettel, one of the most vocal drivers on the F1 grid, retiring at the end of the 2022 season, Russell has the chance to step up within the drivers’ circle and become one of their senior spokesmen through his role at the GDPA.

So far no drivers have supported the rule although Logan Sargeant refused to comment until drivers have received further guidance from the FIA, and that’s something Russell stressed he was hoping for.

“Naturally we are seeking clarification and I can’t imagine they want to restrict any of us from any of our views,” Russell added.

“This is part of freedom of speech, and when we have our right to share our views across whatever platform we wish. So I don’t see this being a concern moving forward.

“I’d like to think it’s been some kind of misunderstanding but I’m not too sure, there’s not really a lot more I can say from that to be honest, just seek clarification, see where we all stand.”

Mercedes-AMG F1 W14 E Performance Launch| Steve Etherington / Mercedes F1 Team
Adam Dickinson
Adam Dickinson
An international multi-award-winning journalist, Adam Dickinson has written for Total-Motorsport.com since June 2022 and also contributes to TNT Sports, Eurosport and the Rugby Paper. He's also had articles published in the Daily Telegraph and several local newspapers, previously worked for Last-Lap.co.uk and FeederSeries.net in motorsport, and graduated with a First-Class Journalism Degree from the University of Sheffield having also studied in Oklahoma. Adam started watching F1 by accident in 2007, catching the last race in Indianapolis, and attended his first race as a journalist at the 2023 British Grand Prix.
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