The FIA has published a whole list of guideline regarding the much talked about and supposed ban on F1 drivers speaking out.
Over the winter of 2022 and 2023, the FIA published a note under the International Sporting Code regarding F1 drivers speaking out about various matters around the globe. It was mentioned under Article 12.2.1.n which resulted in whole lot of debates.
During the 2023 F1 launches, majority of the drivers were not too keen on any type of gagging and wanted clearance over the matter as the season gets closer. At the moment, the drivers haven’t come together so far to discuss on the topic.
In the meantime, the FIA has released a statement and also a full guideline detailing on what is allowed and what is not under the said article and what could be the punishment if any driver or team are found to be breaking that code of conduct.
“A Guidance Note has been issued to Participants in International Competitions that sets out the scope of the updates made to the FIA International Sporting Code in December,” read a statement from the FIA amid growing public voice from the drivers.
“The updates cement the FIA’s longstanding commitment to protecting motor sport’s neutrality, and will particularly ensure neutrality during key moments across all motor sport competitions, such as podiums, national anthems and official activities ‘on the field of play’ – it does not impose any additional restrictions on individuals expressing their views outside of these times.
“The Guidance Note does not alter Article 12.2.1.n of the FIA International Sporting Code. It was necessary to provide a separate guidance document to facilitate the implementation of the principles of neutrality across the many different motor sport disciplines.”
The main idea behind this rule is to retain the neutrality especially when an international competition is ongoing. Knowing that there are different views, the FIA wishes to focus on the performances and not individual messages from drivers or teams or anyone.
They also do not wish anyone to be forced to take a stand in a situation where they do not wish to. But the FIA is not stopping the drivers from expressing their views as they are allowed to do so on their social media and also during interviews to TV and print media.
In fact, they can express their opinion during the FIA press conferences when asked by the accredited media. In doing so, they must adhere to the values of the governing body and should anyone wishes to make a larger statement, they need their approval in advance.
Here’s when the Article 18.104.22.168.n will be in place –
Participants are not permitted to make political, religious and/or personal statements in violation of the general principle of neutrality during:
- FIA press conferences (except in response to direct questions from accredited journalists);
- activities on the track (Course) area or equivalent (e.g., during the Drivers Parade and the national anthem); or
- pre-race / post-race procedures or equivalent (e.g., the podium ceremony, in the cool down room, or at the start- and end-of-season group photos).
Here’s explanation in detail of what is allowed/not allowed –
It is likely that a participant has breached the ISC under Article 12.2.1.n if they make any unapproved statements or comments – whether in the form of an image, symbol, gesture, words, or actions – related to the following:
- Any politically-associated or politically-sensitive person(s) living or dead (unless part of the official competition name).
- Any local, regional, national, or international political party/ organisation/group.
- Any local, regional, or national government or any of its departments, offices or functions.
- Any function or branch of government (e.g., any statement or comment regarding the police or military).
- Any reference (whether express or implied) to separatist movements (e.g., the display of a flag or symbol associated with an independence movement).
- Any organisation whose aims or actions: (i) conflict with the FIA’s values or Diversity and Inclusion mission; and/or (ii) include hostility, prejudice, or unlawful discrimination on the grounds set out in Article 1.2 of the FIA Statutes.
- Any reference to any totalitarian regime that justified mass killing (e.g., pro-Nazi chants).
- Any specific political act/ event.
- Any military conflict or political dispute between nations, regions, religions, or communities.
- Any specific ethnic or indigenous communities, or perceived discrimination by one community against another.
- A religion, spiritual practice, or related significant figure, except as indicated below.
- Anything critical of or hostile to others’ religious or spiritual beliefs.
- N.B.: Private, non-proselytising religious gestures, such as pointing to the sky or crossing oneself, shall not be considered prohibited religious statements.
- Article 12.2.1.n will not be used to sanction individuals who display religious symbols or wear prescribed religious clothing/ornaments, unless they include prohibited statements or comments of the kind mentioned above.
- Any circumstance personal to the participant. Competitors must not use events as a platform to share personal statements of any kind in violation of the general principle of neutrality.
Here’s the full FIA guideline: https://www.fia.com/sites/default/files/fia_guidance_on_the_principle_of_neutrality_-_2023-02-17.pdf
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