MIAMI — Lewis Hamilton has called Formula One’s ban on drivers wearing jewellery in the car “a step backwards” and “very silly”, saying he will happily spend the weekend sightseeing in Miami instead of racing this weekend if the sport’s governing body, the FIA, rigorously enforces the rule.
Ahead of Sunday’s Miami Grand Prix, race director Niels Wittich reminded drivers that they are banned from wearing jewellery in the car under the FIA’s International Sporting Code, which was also raised ahead of the Australian Grand Prix in April.
In Miami, the FIA banned jewellery under a scrutineering declaration form distributed to all teams and has clarified which clothing drivers must wear underneath their overalls for safety reasons.
Wittich’s clarification said: “The wearing of jewellery during the competition can hinder both medical interventions as well as subsequent diagnosis and treatment should it be required following an accident. The presence of jewellery can slow, due to the risk of “snagging”, the emergency removal of driver safety equipment such as helmet, balaclava, and overalls.”
It added: “The wearing of jewellery in the form of body piercing or metal neck chains is prohibited during the competition and may therefore be checked before the start.”
Hamilton appeared to be making a point in Friday morning’s press conference as he was wearing several necklaces, rings on every finger and three watches, each set to a different time zone.
“I couldn’t get any more jewellery on today,” he joked when asked about the ban.
Hamilton said he has two piercings which would be difficult to remove.
“It’s platinum that I have, so it’s not magnetic. It’s never been a safety issue in the past.
“In 16 years, I’ve had so many MRI scans and not had to take out the platinum because it’s not been an easy.”
He then added: “If they stop me, then so be it.
“We’ve got a spare driver so we’re all ready and prepped for the weekend. There’s lots to do in the city anyway! It’ll be good either way.”
Hamilton, who added he is willing to sign a waiver to take responsibility away from the FIA, was unable to get hold of FIA president Mohammed bin Sulayem on Thursday but said he plans to discuss the issue ahead of Sunday’s race.
“I feel like it’s almost like a step backwards, if you think about the steps we are taking as a sport, and the more important causes that we need to be focused on,” he added.
“I think we’ve made really great strides as a sport. This is such a small thing.
“I’ve been in the sport for 16 years and I’ve been wearing jewellery for 16 years. In the car I only ever have my earrings on and my nose ring, of which I can’t even remove. It seems unnecessary for us to get into this spat.”
The four drivers sat alongside Hamilton in the press conference offered their support.
AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly said he would not feel comfortable racing without a religious symbol on him.
“I do understand [Hamilton’s comments]. I do believe there are bigger things to focus on.
“I have a religious item that I wear with me when I’m racing which is important to me. I don’t feel comfortable not having that in the car. I do feel like its personal, we should have the freedom to do what we feel is right for us.
“At the end of the day we have the responsibility to go out there and put our lives at risk. It should be a personal choice.”