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Valtteri Bottas has suggested the FIA “wants to control” drivers after the governing body issued a ban to stop protests ahead of races. Lewis Hamilton’s former Mercedes team-mate claimed F1’s stars “should have the right to talk” despite being silenced.
Bottas admitted drivers like Sebastian Vettel have done a “good job” in raising awareness of issues as he blasted bosses for the crackdown. The German has often worn T-shirts protesting climate change issues and calling for LGBTQ+ rights.
Hamilton is also most likely to be affected by the ban due to his anti-racism campaigns. The Mercedes driver has taken the knee ahead of several events in a bid to raise awareness of the issues.
Bottas told Swedish site Expressen: “Personally, I don’t like politics. 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 One 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.” Earlier this month, the FIA confirmed drivers would not be able to use the sport to further their “personal agenda”.
Drivers will only be able to make political, religious or personal statements with written permission from FIA chiefs. It is expected that anyone who breaches the rules could face strict penalties at events.
President Mohammed ben Sulayem called on drivers to focus on driving across race weekends in a bid to keep the FIA “neutral”. Instead, he urged drivers to use their voice on social media platforms and not at racetracks around the world.
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Ben Sulayem added: “We are concerned with building bridges. You can use sport for peace reasons … but one thing we don’t want is to have the FIA as a platform for private personal agenda. We will divert from the sport. What does the driver do best? Driving. They are so good at it, and they make the business, they make the show, they are the stars. Nobody is stopping them.
“There are other platforms to express what they want. Everybody has this and they are most welcome to go through the process of the FIA, to go through that.”
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