It sounds bizarre. The new Formula 1 race director Niels Wittich and Lewis Hamilton bicker because the record winner does not want to take off his jewelry in the cockpit. The driver colleagues are mostly on Hamilton's side.
This appearance before the first practice session for the GP Miami was a statement. Lewis Hamilton sent out a message. According to the motto: You can't forbid me to express my personality and wear jewelry. Not even in the cockpit. The seven-time world champion of Formula 1 did not look like a racing driver at the press conference, but more like a rapper. Hamilton wore two watches on his left arm, one on his right. Plus rings on practically every finger, two bracelets, two earrings and four thick chains around her neck.
It almost seemed like Hamilton dug up every piece of jewelery he could find. The 103-time Formula 1 GP winner says about the dispute over the jewelry. "There are more important issues. I wrote a message to Mohammed about it, but have not yet received an answer. I told him that I was an ally and not against the FIA wants to fight." The question is how FIA President Mohammed bin Salman will react to this. Until now, he was on the side of his race director, who had already enforced the ban on jewelry in other race series.
Hamilton doesn't see a safety problem
The dispute had already been announced at the Australian GP. At the time, the new race director, Niels Wittich, let it be known that he would not allow drivers to wear body jewelry in the car. In Miami, Wittich wrote down his request. It is forbidden to wear body piercings or metal necklaces while driving. Random checks are to be carried out to ensure that the drivers comply with this.
Hamilton is resisting the new regulations. His Mercedes team is behind him. "These are little things. Completely unnecessary," Hamilton complains. "I can't take off two pieces of jewelry. They're platinum and not magnetic. It's never been a safety issue."
Some call it small-minded. But the FIA and its race director insist on their position. For example, in a fire accident, body jewelry could melt and cause serious injury. The objects on a driver's body could reduce the protection of the fireproof clothing. Or make it difficult to provide first aid in the event of an accident. The jewelry could snag on a helmet, balaclava or overalls. The driver could also swallow it and choke on it.
Harsh penalties for rule breakers
Officially, the FIA does not announce any penalties. Only the teams have received the FIA's recommendations to the stewards. And the penalties are so drastic even after a downward correction that Hamilton and Co will think twice about breaking the rules. In the case of a first violation, the driver should be 25.000 euros will be asked to pay and 25,000 euros on probation.
If you do it again, you will be fined 50,000 euros. In the event of a third breach of the rules, the FIA wishes to get down to business. 100,000 euros for the driver. The team is threatened with 250,000 euros and deduction of championship points. There is talk of up to ten counters. Anyone who gives false information to the race director during scrutineering about their pilot's jewelry and piercings will be asked to pay by the FIA. Sauber sports director Beat Zehnder clarifies: "250,000 euros is the maximum fine that the sports court allows. That's only otherwise if a team intentionally cheats."
Vettel comments on dispute
In the quest for better safety at every level, the FIA is forced to take these measures. The drivers were also reminded to wear fireproof underwear. Hamilton doesn't seem ready to give in. "I've had a lot of MRI scans in my life. I didn't have to lose anything for any of these examinations. It's about individuality. I want to be who I am."
Almost defiantly, the Mercedes driver says: "Mercedes also has backup drivers. There's enough for me to do in the city." The majority of drivers take his side. Sebastian Vettel can understand both parties. "I think there's no need to blow the story. Body jewelry can be a problem in the event of a fire accident. But to some extent everyone is responsible for themselves. We should be old enough to make our own decisions. Both in and outside the car." A little later, Vettel fully sided with the Mercedes superstar. Before training, he pulled a pair of underpants over his racing suit.
It has now become known that Hamilton is ready to give in. He had already removed two of his piercings before the first training session. A third must be surgically removed. The FIA will give him a special permit for the race in Miami with the request that the problem be solved by the next Grand Prix.