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While clampdowns on technical innovations are nothing new in F1, bans on the more bizarre elements to the sport entered the spotlight ahead of the Australian Grand Prix weekend when the FIA issued two attention-grabbing clarifications.
In the wake of the recent rule reminders, we’ve compiled a list of some of the strangest decisions the FIA has taken…
On the eve of the Australian Grand Prix, F1’s drivers were issued a reminder by new FIA race director Niels Wittich that wearing jewellery when driving their cars in on-track sessions is banned.
While the move was not a new clampdown as such, with the ban on body piercings and chain jewellery first enforced back in 2005, the timing was intriguing and appeared to be aimed at Lewis Hamilton, despite the FIA insisting that no driver was being singled out.
The seven-time world champion is frequently seen wearing jewellery in the paddock as part of his many fashion statements. When asked about the reminder, Hamilton vowed to continue wearing jewellery during grand prix weekends.
“I don’t have any plans on removing it,” Hamilton said.
“I feel they are personal things. You should be able to be who you are. There’s stuff that I can’t move. I literally can’t even take these out [earrings on right ear].
“They’re welded in so I’d have to get them chopped off or something like that, so they’ll be staying.”
Later on the same weekend in Melbourne, Wittich warned drivers that the FIA would be getting tougher on monitoring the type on underwear used during races on safety grounds.
The clampdown comes amid concerns some drivers are risking compromising their protection in the event of a crash by wearing non-fireproof underwear under their race suits that does not comply with the rules.
Appendix L of the FIA’s International Sporting Code states that drivers must wear gloves, long underwear, a balaclava, socks and shoes that are homologated to the FIA’s safety standards.
The move prompted a cheeky offer from AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly, who mocked the newly-enforced underwear ruling.
“If they want to check my arse, feel free, I’ve got nothing to hide,” he quipped. “My c*ck, everything. If that makes them happy, feel free.”
Slogans on T-shirt
During the 2020 season, F1 banned drivers from wearing unofficial clothing post-race and on the podium after Hamilton wore a T-shirt in protest of Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was shot and killed in her apartment by US police.
The T-shirt, which drew attention to police brutality in the United States, was one of many worn by Hamilton throughout the year as he used his platform to highlight several issues including racial injustice, inequality and environmental concerns.
But after Hamilton wore the T-shirt in parc ferme and on the podium after the Tuscan Grand Prix, the FIA announced a change to its post-race procedure.
Asked about the change, Hamilton said: “Lots of rules have been written for me over the years, that hasn’t stopped me. What I will do is just continue to try to work with Formula 1 and with the FIA to make sure the messaging is right.”
Appearances by Hollywood A-listers VIP guests on the F1 grid have become a theme of grand prix weekends, but last November the F1 moved to make a key change the way the grid operates.
During Martin Brundle’s pre-race ‘grid walk’ for Sky television at the 2021 United States Grand Prix, the former F1 driver was stopped from doing an interview with rapper Megan Thee Stallion by her bodyguard.
When Brundle asked her which driver she was supporting, her bodyguard told him he was not allowed to do that, to which Brundle amusingly replied: “I can do that, because I did.”
F1 subsequently banned celebrities from bringing bodyguards with them to the starting grid but also confirmed that celebrities would no longer be obliged to give interviews.
“For the avoidance of doubt I don’t care who visits the F1 grid, the more the merrier,” Brundle wrote on Twitter in reaction to the new ruling. “Talk to me, ignore me, shove, wave, hug, call me names, whatever makes you happy.
“All I ask is that you soak up the atmosphere, enjoy the privilege. I’ve not asked for any grid protocol changes.”
Military aviation displays
In a change for the 2022 F1 season, race promoters have been stopped from putting on part of their pre-race displays.
Flybys of military aircraft have become a popular addition to the pre-race build-up on F1 Sundays but as of this season, military aviation displays will no longer be permitted ahead of races.
This prompted initial speculation that the Red Arrows, which are part of the Royal Air Force, would no longer be allowed to conduct their traditional pre-race flypast at the British Grand Prix. Silverstone has since confirmed that this will not be the case.
“The Red Arrows have played a significant part in entertaining motorsport fans since they first performed at the British Grand Prix in 1966 and I am pleased to say that Formula 1 has confirmed this much-loved tradition can continue at Silverstone in 2022,” Silverstone managing director Stuart Pringle said in a statement.
Helmet design ban
Prior to the start of the 2015 F1 season, the FIA announced that drivers would be limited to just one change of helmet design during the year.
The move resulted in drivers being prevented from wearing special designs at their home races and drew criticism from drivers and fans alike.
In 2019, Hamilton ran a poll of his social media followers asking “how many of you think it’s bs that the FIA only allow the drivers one helmet design change in the year?”.
The ban was eventually lifted for the 2020 season, five years after it was originally introduced.