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Russell: "Unnecessary" F1 driver statement clampdown "a silly regulation"

Mercedes's George Russell has called the FIA’s new restrictions on political or personal statements by Formula 1 drivers "a silly regulation" which is “totally unnecessary”

Lewis Hamilton, George Russell, Mercedes

The new rule, added to the International Sporting Code for this season, requires drivers to have any such statements approved by the FIA in advance.

Several drivers have expressed their dissatisfaction with the move, although F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali has insisted that it may not be as draconian as some fear, and hopes that the FIA will issue a clarification.

“I'm not too sure why the FIA have taken a stance like this,” said Russell at the launch of the new Mercedes W14. “I think it's totally unnecessary, and in the sport and in the world we live in at the moment.

“Naturally, we are obviously seeking clarification, and I trust it will be resolved. And I'd like to think it's been some kind of misunderstanding. There's not really a lot more I can say from that, to be honest.

“Just seek clarification, see where we will stand. But we're not going to limit our views or our thoughts because of some silly regulation. We're all here to have free speech, and share whatever views we may have.”

Russell indicated that he expects the drivers to have more information before the opening race in Bahrain.

“I'm sure the situation is going to be clarified. And I hope and trust it will be resolved before the first race. I can't imagine they want to restrict any of us from any of our views.

Lewis Hamilton, George Russell, Mick Schumacher, Mercedes Reserve Driver, Toto Wolff, Mercedes F1 Team Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes W14

Lewis Hamilton, George Russell, Mick Schumacher, Mercedes Reserve Driver, Toto Wolff, Mercedes F1 Team Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes W14

Photo by: Mercedes AMG

“This is part of freedom of speech, and we have our right to share our views across whatever platform we wish. So I don't see this being a concern moving forward."

Last year, all drivers and especially Russell, as a GPDA director, had regular direct contact with FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem.

However, the Emirati recently announced that he will no longer have a hands-on F1 involvement.

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“I haven't spoken to Mohammed this month or since he announced his let's say, step back from F1,” said Russell when asked by Motorsport.com about the impact of the change.

“But I have been in contact with [F1 race director] Niels [Wittich] on the more sporting and racing perspective.

“And we've got a really strong dialogue of which all the views of the drivers are being shared and put forward, and he's put questions towards us, just to try and shape the future and help improve what is already a really great sport.

“But in terms of the dialogue direct with Mohammed, I guess, we'll have to have a conversation at some point on what is the right way to go about this.”

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