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F1 Weakens Political Stance

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Posted on February 24, 2023 Tags:



Oscar’s New Ride is a Blinder

And Jack Faces His Biggest Challenge Yet

WITH THE FORMULA ONE SPECTACLE just a week or so away in Bahrain, seven-time world champ Lewis Hamilton has made it clear he will not be silenced on issues he feels passionately about.

As final testing is underway around the sandy Sakhir Circuit (Foxtel has live coverage) in readiness for the season opener there March 3, the FIA has clarified its controversial December decision requiring F1 drivers to have written permission before taking “politically” motivated stances.

That went down like a lead balloon with many drivers and world motorsport’s governing body was forced to bid a hasty retreat.

The FIA, it should be remembered, is not the F1’s commercial rights holder, and has now said drivers can express their views “in their own space, and outside the scope of the international competition.”

The sport, commercially called Formula One Management, is owned by mass media giant Liberty Media which took control of the rights to F1 in January 2017.

FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem chats to Lewis Hamilton.

Lewis, the 37-year-old Brit who has been among the sport’s most vocal about race relations issues, said earlier this week he would not be silenced.

In an update to their sporting code, the FIA now has decreed drivers can “express their views on any political, religious or personal matter before, during and after the international competition”.

Examples the FIA gave include on social media, during interviews with “accredited media” or during an FIA-sanctioned press conference when they are directly asked a question on an issue.

F1 drivers have long been vocal about international issues, although it’s been rampant in recent times.

Shirts with “Black Lives Matter” or “End Racism” have featured prominently, while Hamilton wore a shirt at the 2020 Tuscan Grand Prix that said “Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor” — referencing a shooting in the United States that year.

German superstar Sebastian Vettel, who retired at the end of last season, wore several shirts supporting the LGBTQI community and campaigning for climate action. 

The FIA has said their ruling on political statements — Article 12.2.1n of the sporting code — maintains the body’s political neutrality.

Principal Reflected in its Core Rules

“Like the International Olympic Committee and many other sport governing bodies, this principle is reflected in its core rules, which sets out the FIA’s commitment not to discriminate on account of race, skin colour, gender, sexual orientation, ethnic or social origin, language, religion, philosophical or political opinion, family situation, or disability.”

FIA 2020\


FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem caused a storm recently when he endorsed a collaboration between US racing stalwart Michael Andretti and General Motors as a new F1 team.

Any new team requires the approval of both the FIA and F1, and many in F1 are skeptical of an 11th team on the grid.


Oscar heading for F1 dream

Meanwhile all eyes are on Melbourne’s Oscar Piastri, Daniel Ricciardo’s replacement in F1, who boldly stated this week he has the self-belief to succeed at McLaren and beat teammate Lando Norris, his main target for 2023 is to set the foundations for his new motor racing career.

The 21-year-old arrives on the grid at Bahrain with an impressive resume:  2019 Formula Renault Eurocup champion, 2020 F3 champion, 2021 F2 champion, 2022 Reserve Driver Team Alpine F1, 2023 Driver McLaren F1.

“Everyone in F1 is here because we’ve had a very successful junior career … that’s my credentials to sort of get into the sport, and now I have to make my claim to stay there,” he said this week.

Asked if he thought he could beat Norris, Piastri was upbeat but emphasised his focus on realistic expectations for his first season at the top level of his sport.

“Yeah, I think so. I think everyone has to have that self-belief that they can win, or if they’re not in a position to win to do the best that they can with what they have.

“There’s definitely a steep learning curve ahead of me, into my first year, and obviously Lando’s into his fifth year now, but first and foremost for me it’s going to be getting back up to speed with no racing for over a year now and we’ll see what that holds.

“Putting numbers on my expectations is pretty difficult, especially in F1, I think it will depend where we are as a team… where the car is at.

“For me, a successful year would be me setting the foundations for later in the year and the years to come, hopefully, and doing everything the right way from the beginning, laying the foundations, starting good habits.

“If there’s any results that come out of that, then that’s a bonus.”

Christian Horner and Daniel Ricciardo embrace, as the Team announces the Australian is back on board! Image courtesy RedBullRacing.com.

We all know Daniel’s last two seasons were unsuccessful, as he dealt with car troubles and poor performance while teammate Norris went largely from strength to strength. 

The traumas of Oscar’s Alpine-McLaren dramatic entry into F1 are history. McLaren won the ensuing court case, allowing them to sign the Aussie, confirming the end of the road for Daniel — who has since signed with Red Bull.

Oscar said while there’s been little contact between the two, he was thankful for the way his fellow countryman had handled his replacing him at Papaya.

“We got in touch through texts I guess once everything had unfolded last year and he was very supportive of me both personally and on the media front as well, he’s been very supportive of me which I’m very thankful for,” he said. “I’m sure I will see him around in the F1 paddock this year, he’s back working with Red Bull.”

Aussie Jack Must Win F2!

SPA, BELGIUM – AUGUST 28: Race winner Jack Doohan (Virtuosi Racing) celebrates his win during the Round 11 of the Formula 2 Championship at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.

Alpine principal Otmar Szafnauer says “superfast” Jack Doohan can get himself a Formula 1 drive if he wins this year’s Formula 2 championship.

Jack was announced as the French team’s reserve driver this week, putting him next in line to one of its full-time race seats currently occupied by Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly.

The 20-year-old will fulfil his F1 obligations alongside his second full-time campaign in F2 after finishing sixth last season. He’d previously finished runner-up in Formula 3 and Formula 3 Asia in 2021 and 2020 respectively.

Being named as reserve driver is the biggest vote of confidence in his ability yet, and the Alpine boss said he expected a long relationship with the young ace, son of the legendary Mick Doohan.

“He’s been part of our academy for a while now and will be in the future.

“Basically the reason we named him is he’s got a chance of winning the F2 championship.

“He’s talented, and he comes from a talented racing background as well. He’s a talented young man. He’s superfast.

“He’s learnt in 2022, and I look forward to him winning the F2 championship in 2023.”

Otmar Szafnauer

After a promising start, the luck just didn’t go Jack’s way during his first full-time F2 campaign.

He had found some strong momentum following wins in back-to-back rounds in Hungary and Belgium to sit second in the standings and was on track to chase down an outside chance of eventual runaway champion Felipe Drugovich.

But results in the final three feature races of 2022 cruelled his chances. He was rear-ended at the Dutch Grand Prix and sandwiched between a pair of rivals at the Italian Grand Prix, blamelessly crashing out of both after starting each from the front row.

More painful still was his sterling strategic drive in Abu Dhabi being undone by a loose wheel-nut just as he looked set to deliver a grandstand victory. Instead it was another DNF, another non-score.

 The reality is though, even if Jack were to cream F2 this year, both Ocon and Gasly are contracted until at least the end of 2024!

EDITED by AC

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