Lewis Hamilton defies FIA rules with political statement in Bahrain

Hamilton opens up on plans to remain in F1 ahead of new season

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Lewis Hamilton has broken the FIA’s new protest rules after making a political statement during first practice at the Bahrain Grand Prix. Hamilton was caught wearing a rainbow design on his helmet when stepping into his new W14 ahead of FP1. 

Hamilton wore the colours last season in a bid to raise awareness for LGBTQ+ rights. The new design is more subtle to previous designs but could land the Mercedes star in trouble after new rules banned drivers from any messages while on track.

Asked on Thursday whether he would carry any statement for the Bahrain Grand Prix. Hamilton simply said: “You’ll see. You know me.”

He added: “I’ve always felt that we have a responsibility, if a sport is going to go to these countries, we are duty bound to raise awareness and try to leave a positive impact in these places. That view’s not always been always been shared within the sport, whether it’s teams or people in high-power positions. But more needs to be done, without doubt. I don’t know how it will happen. Time will tell.”

The FIA had outlawed all political statements over race weekends before backlash from teams and drivers forced a U-turn. Instead, the governing body made clear the rules would only apply during on-track action. 

A document released by the FIA ahead of Bahrain made clear this would include visual gestures. As a compromise, F1’s stars will be free to make comments in interviews and at press conferences if they are asked a direct question. 

However, the FIA states breaking the rules could result in a range of punishments for drivers. These included simple reprimands and fines through to grid drops, time penalties and even suspension from events. 

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The rules were introduced in a bid to ensure the FIA remained “neutral” on race weekends. However, the ban was opposed as the governing body was accused of silencing drivers’ voices. 

F1 boss Stefano Domenciali also put pressure on the FIA to ease concerns ahead of the new campaign as he denied the sport would gag anyone. He explained: “We were the one with WeRaceAsOne to create discussion using our platform the right way. I do not believe [it is about] preventing the driver from communicating with the community – it is a matter of respect.

“No one will put any barrier on that unless you’re going to be political, because we’re in a sport dimension, but to highlight the attention around certain subjects that are at the centre of discussion of today, that will be no problem in my opinion and I’m sure the FIA share that view.”

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