Valtteri Bottas has expressed concern over the FIA’s new rules restricting drivers’ political expressions.
As RaceFans revealed last month, a revision to the FIA International Sporting Code for the 2023 F1 season introduced a ban on drivers making any political gestures without the prior approval of the sport’s governing body.
The revision to the ISC forbids “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.”
Bottas, who competed in the Race of Champions in Sweden last weekend, defended political gestures made by drivers such as Sebastian Vettel in recent years.
“Personally, I don’t like politics,” he told Expressen. “I like to do what I love, which is racing, but politics is at the same time part of today’s society. I think Formula 1 has done a good job of paying attention to some of these kinds of issues and many drivers have raised their voices, including Sebastian.”
“I do not understand why they want to control us,” he added. “I think we should have the right to talk about what we want. That is how I see it, but we will see what happens.”
The FIA justified the clampdown as being in line with the International Olympics Committee’s Code of Ethics. McLaren team principal Zak Brown defended the change, saying “it is within Formula 1 and the FIA’s right to say here’s the code of conduct we expect for you to follow during a grand prix weekend.”
However rights groups have criticised the change. One told FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem in a letter last week the new restriction on drivers’ expressions was “seriously disturbing”.
Bottas’ former team principal Toto Wolff believes a dialogue between the governing body and the drivers is needed. “Every time I know when Mohammed’s spoken to Lewis and the other way around, it’s ended up in a positive conversation,” he said earlier this month. “So I have no doubt that when once people sit [at] the table together that things will not appear as harsh when they are being written down in the off-season.”
Nico Hulkenberg, who will return to the F1 grid this year, said the new rule “will not affect or impair that much” for him.
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