Martin Brundle sides with Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel over FIA crackdown

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The FIA is clamping down on safety measures to ensure Formula 1 drivers have fewer options in regards to their clothing options while driving. President Mohammed bin Sulayem—appointed to the role in December 2021—has enforced rules prohibiting jewellery in the cockpit, as well as banning certain types of underwear.

F1 has long had laws banning drivers from wearing jewellery, but drivers will now be expected to follow regulations more strictly. Likewise, the FIA chief wants drivers to only wear fireproof undergarments in an effort to lower welfare risks.

Such decisions have been scrutinised in some sectors, with some even suggesting the jewellery ban is a personal crusade against Mercedes ace Lewis Hamilton. Sebastian Vettel made it known he’s not a fan of the new underwear restrictions, protesting by wearing a pair of briefs outside his racesuit at the Miami Grand Prix.

And analyst Martin Brundle sees the drivers’ plight after suggesting the FIA should have greater priorities. It’s encouraging that motorsport’s governing body places such a priority on driver safety, but the beloved F1 figure said forcing drivers to wear fireproof pants shouldn’t be of concern.

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“The FIA has insisted recently drivers wear no jewellery or watches, and do wear fireproof underpants, or no underpants just fireproof leggings, which presumably they consider ‘low hanging fruit’ in the search for incremental safety,” Brundle, 62, wrote for Sky Sports. “Frankly, if your underpants are on fire you’ve got much bigger issues, and when you step over the side of these cars you’ve mentally already done a great deal of management as to how much risk you’re prepared to take.”

As a veteran of 165 Formula 1 race entries, former McLaren and Jordan driver Brundle knows better than most the rigours of what the racing experience demands. The sport has evolved a lot since his hayday, but that’s not to suggest every change is of equal benefit to the sport.

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Vettel criticised the increased jewellery ban in Miami and said he believed it was “a bit unnecessary” to treat it this seriously. “Probably at this stage it’s more of a personal thing,” he added. “And I feel in a particular way targeted to Lewis.”

Hamilton has been given a two-race exemption to remove certain piercings, which expires at the Monaco Grand Prix on May 29. Fines and potential points penalties are in place for drivers who fail to adhere to the ban, while Sky Sports’ Ted Kravitz has said he fears Hamilton could face a suspension unless he’s jewellery-free in future.

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