Long-time Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko has slammed the FIA for their new rule banning drivers from making opinionated political statements, and said it goes against democratic principles.
After an increase in driver activism spearheaded by Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel during the 2020s, in December 2022 the FIA banned all drivers under its jurisdiction from making any non-neutral “political, religious or personal” statements or comments unless given permission first.
“This decision is clearly wrong,” Marko told RTL. “[Drivers] are responsible citizens who are in the global public eye and know how, and what, they have to say.
“In general, we are in a democratic society and everyone can express their opinion”
The new rule, article 12.2.1.n, states drivers will breach the rules if they show: “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.”
Marko backs Hamilton
The FIA’s ban on drivers’ political free speech has been interpreted by many as an attack on Hamilton, who’s been especially vocal on non-racing issues since the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hamilton attended a ‘Black Lives Matter’ protest in London wore and wore a BLM t-shirt, and a shirt saying “Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor”.
It’s not the first time he’s backed Hamilton against the FIA though. In the 2022 season when the FIA attempted a crackdown on drivers wearing jewellery in the cockpit, Hamilton found himself in a standoff with the governing body.
“I think they have gone too far,” Marko told RTL at the time. “This should be a personal decision of the drivers.
“I don’t remember how long Hamilton has been in F1, but he has been wearing this jewellery all these years. So why did they suddenly decide to invent this topic?
“I think we have enough other things to worry about, we must accept and respect the individuality of each driver.
“Do I side with Hamilton? Yes I do, and this is my honest opinion.”