McLaren driver Lando Norris has spoken out against the FIA’s recent restriction on free speech in the sport and has conceded that he could break the rules.
Lando believes that drivers should not have to seek approval before expressing their opinions.
The recent change to the International Sporting Code, which prohibits personal, religious, and political statements without written consent, has sparked controversy and sparked debates over drivers’ right to free speech.
The FIA is facing growing opposition, with prominent drivers such as reigning world champion Max Verstappen, Valtteri Bottas of Alfa Romeo, and Alex Albon of Williams publicly expressing their concerns about the rule, which seems to target Lewis Hamilton, known for being F1’s most vocal driver.
F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali has reassured the public that the sport will never restrict anyone’s freedom of speech, despite recent tensions between the championship and the governing body.
At the launch of McLaren’s 2023 F1 car, Norris was asked if he would be willing to break the rule and face a potential penalty. He responded, “I don’t know what the penalty is!”
“If it’s a fine or something, I’m probably happy to break it, if it’s a bit more, then not. It depends,” Norris said.
“At certain times there’s things we’re going to want to say, which maybe they don’t allow, but I think it would only be a positive thing for whatever that circumstance is.
“I don’t know 100 percent what the ruling is and how everything is going to happen, but I feel like there’s been quite a lot of pressure and enough said to maybe make a little bit of a U-turn.
“F1 have made things clear with what they think is acceptable and what they think we should be able to do as drivers, and I guess that’s what I stand by.
“I think we should be able to say what we want and what we believe in. I don’t know the penalties or exactly how strict it will be.
“But we’re not in a school. We shouldn’t have to ask about everything and say ‘can we do this, can we do that?’ I think we’re grown up enough to try and make smart decisions.
“Maybe sometimes people make silly decisions, but that happens in life. I think there are enough drivers to have said things now to push back a little bit.”
Will drivers become like ‘robots’ due to restriction?
Norris is worried that these rules established by FIA could potentially make drivers like “robots” since they are not allowed to express their opinions.
“I don’t think F1 should go in a direction with rules or the direction of limiting what we can do or say and influence us drivers because we are only wanting to do things for the best,” he said.
“We don’t want to use it in any wrongdoing way. We are doing it because we have a lot of fans, millions of fans, millions of viewers, who we want to influence, guide and use to help, or to help them personally.
“We should have freedom of speech. We should be able to say and do we what we want – that’s what defines people, this is what creates us, what makes us humans.
“There always needs to be good reasoning to do so. It’s better when as a community, as F1, we come forward as a group.
“We give statements and so on, the drivers and ourselves should be able to have our own say in anything at the same time.
“As long as we have freedom of speech I think that’s something that F1 are supporting then I am happy.
“If things start to get blocked off and we can’t even talk and say anything then no one is going to want to do media because you just can’t say anything.
“Everything is going to turn into a robot and say the same things over and over again.
“We need it. We’re just trying to help people in the world, give advice and so on. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to do that.”