Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel have slammed the FIA’s clampdown on jewellery, with race director Niels Wittich again stating that jewellery items during a race weekend are prohibited.
The ongoing spat between the FIA and Hamilton began in Australia when Wittich first announced that the drivers' personal underwear and jewellery would now be checked for safety reasons; however, Hamilton said he wouldn’t take it out for personal and practical reasons stating that the removal of some piercings would cause him to chop part of his ear off.
Wittich then demanded that all drivers take off the jewellery, and once again, Hamilton refused, as the seven-time World champion wore three watches and several necklaces in today’s press conference in order to ram home the point that he would not take off his jewellery regardless of whether the FIA fines him or not.
However, the seven-time World champion did sign a medical exemption before Practice as he could not remove a nose piercing before the weekend’s action began.
"If you think of the steps we have taken as a sport and the more important issues and causes we need to be focused on, this is such a small thing; It seems unnecessary for us to get into this spat. We have bigger fish to fry. I want to be an ally, and I don’t want to fight over this. It’s very, very silly."
"I am willing to sign a waiver to take the responsibility away from them if necessary; it is about individuality and being who you are. I did try calling Mohammed this morning, and I think he was super busy, but I sent him a message. I wanted to reassure him and said: 'I want to be an ally. I don't want to fight with you guys over this. It has never been a safety issue in the past. If they stop me, we have a spare driver. There are lots of things to do here."
Hamilton has now been given until the Monaco Grand Prix to remove the jewellery, or he will pick up further fines by the FIA.
Hamilton wasn’t the only one to be unhappy with the new regulation. Sebastian Vettel and Pierre Gasly questioned the FIA’s ban, arguing that it’s a personal choice whether a driver wears jewellery.
Vettel argued that the new regulation was targeted at Hamilton. He also produced his own protest at the FIA by wearing a pair of boxer shorts over his race overalls before the opening Practice session.
"I think it is a bit unnecessary to blow this topic up. Probably at this stage, it’s more of a personal thing, and I feel particularly in a way targeted to Lewis."
"We spoke about underpants as well, but really is that the most exciting thing we can talk about?."
Gasly too also wears jewellery during a race weekend for religious reasons, and he stated that he wouldn’t feel conformable going out on track without his jewellery.
"I do believe there are bigger things to focus on said Gasly. I appreciate the FIA are looking after our safety. But in my case, I am religious, and there are things I have with me that I do not feel comfortable not having in the car."
"In the end, we are the ones who go out there and put our lives at risk, and I do feel it should be a personal choice. I hope in the end we could find a better solution than this very strict one."