Formula 1 informed the F1 drivers in a lengthy briefing that they would tighten the rules on what the drivers were allowed to wear under their race suits and helmets, as they share their views.
Since this clamp down on the pre-existing rule was announced, the drivers made clear their opinions on the matter in which some are bound to be more affected by than others. They were split on their opinion of the decision of new FIA Race Director Neils Wittich to enforce the fact that no jewellery can be worn and that the correct type of fireproof underwear is required.
The FIA’s International Sporting Code states that drivers must wear the correctly homologated gloves, underwear, balaclava, socks and shoes. Lewis Hamilton made it abundantly clear that he would be defying the FIA’s ruling, especially on the jewellery side, claiming that some of his ear-rings are “welded in”.
“I don’t plan on removing jewellery, you should be able to be who you are,” said Hamilton to written media. “There is stuff I can’t move, I literally can’t take these out. These ones on my right ear are literally welded in so I’ll have to get them chopped off or something, so they’ll be staying.”
He also questioned the need to enforce underwear requirements after a long period without these requirements being implemented properly. He also brings up the matter of mask wearing inside the tightly packed briefing held on Friday evening in Australia.
“It was the longest drivers’ briefing of my life,” said Hamilton. “I’ve been racing a long time and they’ve never done such a long drivers’ briefing. Also, nobody in the drivers’ briefing was wearing masks. Some of the drivers were, but most of the FIA weren’t, which was for me uncomfortable. And then I don’t really understand the small things they are picking up, like the underwear. Are we really talking about that sort of thing? But we move on.”
Reigning champion Max Verstappen joked that he would be “too heavy” if he wore jewellery in an F1 car. “So it’s not possible,” he said. AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly took a different approach by boldly suggesting that the FIA are free to check his private parts.
“Honestly I think I’ve said enough. I won’t comment on that. If they want to check my arse, feel free, I’ve got nothing to hide. My cock, everything. If that makes them happy, feel free,” Gasly said while smiling.
McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo on the other hand is of a different opinion, in that the ruling “doesn’t bother” him” as he implies that he would never normally do so anyway. “If someone says, ‘don’t drive with a ring’, I’m not going to drive with a ring,” he claimed. “It doesn’t bother me and I’m also not superstitious. So stuff like that, a lucky bracelet or something certainly ain’t for me.”
The Australian believes that following the rule and not wearing potentially hazardous jewellery or unsuitable clothing is in everyone’s “best interest”, going against the likes of Hamilton. He also states that such fireproof underwear does not exist to his knowledge.
“So if it’s in your best interest to not wear it then I’m totally okay with that,” continued Ricciardo. “I was fine [when I heard]. But this was the first time I’d heard about the fireproof underwear. Obviously we wear the leggings, if you want to call it that, but we don’t have actual underwear that’s fireproof, so that was just more of a surprise, I’d never heard of it.
“If it helps keep us a bit safer in those situations then of course I’ll invest in some. But I don’t think they make them. Or at least our people that we get our race kit from I don’t think, so we’re going to have to get some custom ones. And I guess it’s going to be tailor-made of course!”
Esteban Ocon is “happy” that the FIA is putting safety first, and also willing to be a part of the debate over what safety measures should be prioritised, during a period where safety in F1 is at an all-time high in light of several serious accidents in the last decade.
“There’s obviously very long talks,” said Ocon. “A lot of different subjects, which is good. It’s for our safety, most of the things, and we can be happy the FIA is taking [safety] so importantly. But of course there are things we can prioritise and some not and that’s what we are debating.”
Fellow Alpine F1 driver and two-time champion Fernando Alonso above all thinks that there should be flexibility applied to the ruling. “I’m not too interested about these things,” he said. “You know, I think we need to be flexible in a couple of these things. But it’s part of the show I guess.”
The story was written by Danny Herbert
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