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Debate | Is the FIA going too far with a ban on piercings and jewellery?

Debate | Is the FIA going too far with a ban on piercings and jewellery?

24 May - 08:38 Last update: 10:41
28 Comments

GPblog.com

The FIA has made it a battle in recent weeks to ban piercings and jewelry from F1. In Monaco, all piercings on Lewis Hamilton will also have to be removed, but the question is whether he will allow this to happen. We asked editors of the Dutch and English editions of GPblog how they view the rule and the way the FIA and the race directors deal with it.

Rishi Wig - Editor GPblog UK

When a new regime enters, they attempt to seal their authority by applying a series of changes or enforcing certain rules with greater vigour. It signifies to all that a major change has occurred at the top and that the new enforcers take their position seriously, In this, the FIA has elected to clamp down on the regulations surrounding jewellery and fireproof undergarments which the drivers wear. It’s generally a very difficult rule to police. One could hardly expect a special set of scrutineers to examine every inch of a driver’s clothing to ensure compliance and that doesn’t even take into consideration the discomfort felt by doing so.

It is strange that this is the rule which the new management have chosen to pin their efforts on. It’s hard to believe that in the entire list of the FIA rules, this was the one which caused the enforcers the most grief. Overall, it’s only led to a distraction in the world of F1. The grim reality is that drivers face a greater chance of an injury from a standard incident, rather than non-fireproof items causing damage.

Bonne Veenstra - Editor GPblog NL

When the new race officials first said something about the ban on jewelry and piercings, it seemed like an unnecessary rule to me. Formula 1 cars hardly ever catch fire anymore. After thinking a bit longer, I thought back to Romain Grosjean's fiery crash in Bahrain in 2020. You shouldn't think about, say, a rubber band from your watch burning against your wrist.

Fortunately, most jewelry can be easily taken off, and if you've been driving Formula 1 for years as a driver, you should have known that it's not wise to take piercings. It is a good thing that the new race directors are taking their duties seriously. After all, rules are rules and every driver should follow them.

Matt Gretton - Editor-in-Chief GPblog UK

I believe this is a response from the new race directors and FIA to stamp authority on Formula 1. An authority stamp that the sport was crying out for after the debacle that left a stain on a fantastic 2021 season. It wasn’t just Michael Masi, the highly praised and respected Charlie Whiting didn’t enforce the rule either. 

Has it gone too far? My gut feeling is yes. But the only way to reach a valid conclusion to that point would be to look at the historical reports from hospitals in regards to the MRI scans, and data from crashes to assess the driver injury. Let’s decide whether the rule is required in modern F1. However, I foresee a situation developing in F1 that fills me with concern. It’s an issue that has the potential to hit the fan at top speed with the DRS open. It’s something that could get messy very quickly and in the public eye. In my opinion, the FIA have gone the wrong way about enforcing the rule and let’s hope a sensible conclusion is reached whilst acknowledging the safety from valid data. Safety comes first.

Femke Notermans - Editor GPblog NL

I certainly agree that Formula 1 should do everything possible to ensure the safety of the drivers, but the strict rules around piercings and jewelry come out of the blue. Lewis Hamilton in particular is affected by the new rule, as the Brit has the most piercings on the grid. This is why I would have expected the FIA to sit down with Hamilton. The rule regarding jewelry has existed for years, even before the Mercedes driver came to F1 in the first place. That it is now suddenly strictly enforced is rather strange.

In addition, an exception is made for wedding rings, while that can be just as dangerous. If a driver can keep his ring on, it seems to me there is no problem if Hamilton keeps one or two piercings which he cannot take off just like that. In the end, I also think it comes partly down to the drivers' own responsibility, something Sebastian Vettel also mentioned. All in all I do agree with the rules, especially the rule around the use of fireproof clothing, but I think the FIA could have had better conversations with the drivers.

Oliver Lewis - Editor GPblog UK

I don’t agree with the new policing of the jewellery/clothing regulations. I feel that those who have articles that breach the regulations have been racing with them and have had time to adapt and acclimatise to what is needed to be safe while wearing them. Part of me sees this as a way for the new race directors to issue their authority over the teams/drivers so we don’t see as many complaints as we did at the backend of Masi’s race direction. I do believe the jewellery and clothing regulations have just become petty.

However, do I believe it was a targeted ruling, towards Lewis Hamilton? No, I don’t. Although does that mean he’s wrong for protesting as he did in Miami. Absolutely not. The ruling does affect how he intends to live his life, and the personality/persona he’s built throughout his 14 years on the grid. I don’t believe that sport would be where it is today if we didn’t give drivers the ability to express themselves, and that’s not even in the ‘Netflix Era’. Drivers with big personalities, and exhibit that in the public eye, have always been around Formula 1, James Hunt just being one example. So while I’m not obtuse, and am aware that clothing and jewellery aren’t the only form of expression. I feel limiting a form of expression on race weekends, will be an overarching negative

Jordi Smit - Editor GPblog NL

Officially, the FIA is right to be strict on the rules regarding piercings and jewelry, as it has been in the regulations for years. However, the communication is not convenient. The organisation knew better than anyone that there would be hassle if it sounded the alarm in an ongoing season. It would therefore have been wise to provide this clarity a few months before the start of the season.

I also find the rule questionable. We can all agree that a piercing can be very dangerous in a crash, so it is logical for the FIA to make this clear to the drivers. At the same time, there is still something like personal responsibility. If drivers want to take the risk then the FIA does not gain anything by expelling them from Formula 1. The FIA must therefore give very urgent advice not to wear piercings or jewelry, but banning them is going too far.

The organisation does take the right line with fireproof clothing. The crash of Romain Grosjean has shown how important it is to be well prepared. In this case it is about something collective within Formula 1, which can prevent major problems in the future. Therefore, the clothing is very welcome within the sport.

Jools Reimer - Editor GPblog UK

I am all for drivers being able to wear and express themselves freely outside of the cockpit, inside is another argument. The rule is simply there to protect the driver further from a potentially damaging scenario. Enforcing rules that the FIA put in place is key to keeping the sport fair but you want to run that idea parallel to keeping the drivers on board. Maybe in some cases, there can be exceptions. Lewis Hamilton will be given a two-race exemption to remove any piercing that only be taken off surgically, but despite this, he apparently has no intentions of doing so. 

Where my issue lies is not the idea of the protest but the hypocritical nature of Mercedes. For a team that was so scolding of Micheal Masi and the FIA last season for not following the rules within a millimeter of the rule book, it seems contradictory to now not want to follow the rules. Mercedes and Hamilton should focus more on their on-track issues rather than battling the FIA over a rule that really has little impact on performance.

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