Drivers today are still as expressive as they have ever been, but FIA has laid down a number of rules to limit their freedom of speech while competing in the sport.
This has not been received well by a number of drivers on the circuit, with Lewis Hamilton insisting that his freedom of speech can never be limited and he will continue to voice his opinions even if it leads to a ban.
The truth is that drivers do indeed enjoy a power of authority with which they can raise awareness about social, gender and political issues.
Largely, this has been handled quite well by the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel in the past.
In an interview with Auto Bild, recently-retired driver Sebastian Vettel spoke about the bright side with regard to not being on the track anymore. It naturally allows him to be more expressive without fearing any reprimand from the FIA.
However, Vettel is still mindful of the fact that someone like Hamilton, who is a good friend of his, will continue to face difficulties.
“I’m no longer there, so of course I can say a lot now that I have retired,” Vettel said.
“I wish that the guys in Formula 1 will continue to have the courage to stand up for their opinions and to express them.”
The fact that drivers get so much TV coverage once before and after the race makes it imperative for them to be allowed to be themselves, according to Vettel.
The German believes simply expressing their beliefs could help make a huge difference in the world, which is eventually the most important thing.
In the second half of Vettel’s career, it was clear that his interest and concern towards the environment was legitimate. He often spoke about feeling like a hypocrite when he spoke about the detrimental effects combustion has on the environment.
While such statements are well appreciated and present a cause that no one in the sport can ignore, there are other expressions that have not been received as well.
The 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix provides a perfect example, as Vettel was seen wearing a Pride t-shirt.
This led to significant controversy and the FIA eventually came out with a rule that banned any LGBTQ promotion.
Vettel ignored this and wore a “Same Love” T-shirt during the pre-race shenanigans.
The FIA reprimanded the German driver, but Seb maintained his stance. Back then, Hamilton had said he was ‘proud’ of how Vettel handled the situation.
Hamilton himself is a frontrunner when it comes to taking a stand.
The Stevenage-born driver wore anti-discrimination T-shirts during the 2020 season, but this was supported by the FIA as well.
A campaign titled ‘We Race as One’ was launched by the governing body in conjunction with Lewis, but it is believed that they were still clear about levying a penalty on any driver who would wear an unapproved item of clothing.