At the beginning of the 2022 Formula 1 season, new race director Niels Wittich announced a clamp down on a rule regarding the wearing of jewellery while driving. The clamp down, which also references the underwear required to be worn, was due to come into force in Miami last week, with Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel showing their disapproval of it.
McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl believes the situation has been blown out of proportion by the reactions of drivers as well as media coverage, and says if drivers are not willing to follow the rules then they should not be allowed to race.
“The topic of the jewellery and the underwear for me is just a topic that gets a bit too much hyped up in the entire paddock,” he said to MotorLAT and other media outlets in Miami. “From drivers and also from the media side. In the end it’s a rule that has been in place for I don’t know how how many years.
“If you have worked in other categories, it’s not even a discussion. If you don’t like to take off your jewellery or if you don’t want to put the fireproof underwear on you just don’t drive, it’s quite straightforward and simple.
“Also on this topic from the FIA side they offered again a dialogue for all kind of situations where it might be a bit trickier to take the jewellery off for example. That’s exactly what we are asking for and exactly what we like, that we see that the eyes are open and dialogue is possible to find solutions. I think that is also happening at the moment for the guys that are more effected.”
Seidl also discussed what has been seen as many as inaction on behalf of the FIA following crashes from both Carlos Sainz and Esteban Ocon at the same corner with both drivers saying TecPro barriers should be used in that area.
“I think for me the discussion or the quotes we are getting at the moment from the drivers are certainly getting a bit too emotional, too heated from my point of view.
“I think similar to the past we have a very good dialogue between drivers, teams and the FIA when it comes to safety. The way we have experienced now the new race director and also the new setup with the stewards and so on is a very good, transparent and constructive dialogue about various topics.
“In the end, from our point of view as a team, we trust the FIA to make the right decisions. Also in terms of timing. When is the right time to apply changes during a race weekend? Which isn’t always straightforward.
“From my point of view, they do a great job.”
McLaren driver Lando Norris also commented on the situation, saying he hopes the drivers do not have to get involved with the FIA’s decision.
“I just hope we don’t need to [get involved].” Norris said. “I think we easily can, as like the GPDA we can easily do these types of things, but I’m hoping they probably learned their lesson. In a way, it’s not something they’ve been hurt by. Esteban [Ocon] paid the price for it today with, I think it was, 51G. For like third gear is pretty extreme.
“I just hope they start to listen a little bit more to some of the things we say.”
Seidl also spoke on the FIA’s restructuring and how it seems to have worked.
“I don’t want to compare to the past because from our point of view, we have been very happy with the exchanges and the working relationship we had with previous setups the FIA had.
“From my point of view the new setup with Niels [Wittich] and also Eduardo [Freitas] had a very good start. Niels is quite straightforward in terms of making sure the rules get enforced. He’s also quite straightforward in terms of getting across what he is expecting and that’s what I personally like.