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Formula 1 Williams launch

Albon: F1 drivers are “all concerned” by FIA clampdown on statements

Alex Albon says that Formula 1 drivers are “all concerned” by the FIA’s clampdown on political statements this year, believing they have a “responsibility” to speak up on important issues.

The FIA updated its International Sporting Code in December to prohibit drivers across its championships from making “political, religious or personal” statements without prior permission.

In recent years, a number of drivers, including Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, have used their platforms on race weekends to speak up about important social issues, ranging from Black Lives Matter to environmentalism.

F1 also launched its own campaign, We Race As One, in 2020 that had support from the drivers.

Although it was suggested this was merely formalising a process that is already in place, the FIA’s move was met with criticism as comparisons were drawn to FIFA’s similar clampdown ahead of the World Cup in Qatar.

Albon said there had to be “clarity on the situation” after finding the initial guidance “somewhat confusing”.

“We were very much for We Race As One and all these kind of situations, and it seems like the FIA are trying to go away from that,” Albon said when asked by Autosport about the clampdown at the launch of Williams’ 2023 F1 car on Monday.

“So we need to see. It’s clear we need to be open in dialogue about what they’re trying to do. Of course, we need to be able to speak freely to some extent.

“I’m sure we’re going to get clarity later on what really they’re trying to say.”

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG F1, and Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes-AMG F1, on the grid

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG F1, and Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes-AMG F1, on the grid

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem defended the move last month by saying the governing body’s championships should not be a “platform for private personal agenda”, and denied the FIA was “shutting any drivers” down.

But Albon felt F1 drivers had “a lot of people come to us and look at us as spokespeople for issues around the world” given their reach through fans and the media.

“I do feel like it is a responsibility for drivers to make people aware of these kind of situations,” said Albon.

“It is a beast. It is hard to, as drivers, to see what they’re trying to say. But let’s see.”

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Although Albon said he hadn’t “spoken too much to the grid about the situation”, he felt they were “all concerned.”

“I know, you know as well, that between Formula 1 and the FIA, it’s trying to get everything together in the same form of communication,” he said.

“At the minute, there’s a little bit of confusion. That’s all I’m going to say about that."

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