Norris warns FIA drivers could push back on speech restrictions

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Norris warns FIA drivers could push back on speech restrictions

Formula 1

Norris warns FIA drivers could push back on speech restrictions


Lando Norris says the drivers are so united in their opposition to restrictions on their freedom of speech from the FIA that the changes to the International Sporting Code (ISC) could be revisited.

The FIA inserted articles into the ISC that prohibits drivers from “the general making and display of political, religious and personal statements or comments” without prior approval from the governing body, meaning it is able to hand out sporting punishments if it wishes. A number of drivers have spoken out against the move – with Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali also saying they will be supported – and Norris says the pushback means changes should be considered.

“I don’t know what the penalty is!” Norris said of whether he’s willing to ignore the FIA move. “If it’s a fine or something, I’m probably happy to break it, if it’s a bit more, then not. It depends. At certain times there’s things we’re going to want to say, which maybe they don’t allow, but I think it would only be a positive thing for whatever that circumstance is.

“I don’t know 100 percent what the ruling is and how everything is going to happen, but I feel like there’s been quite a lot of pressure and enough said to maybe make a little bit of a U-turn. F1 have made things clear with what they think is acceptable and what they think we should be able to do as drivers, and I guess that’s what I stand by.

“I think we should be able to say what we want and what we believe in. I don’t know the penalties or exactly how strict it will be. We’re not in a school. We shouldn’t have to ask about everything and say ‘can we do this, can we do that?’ I think we’re grown up enough to try and make smart decisions. Maybe sometimes people make silly decisions, but that happens in life. I think there are enough drivers to have said things now to push back a little bit.”

And Norris says the drivers still tend to make most statements as a collective but he fears that extra censoring will start to reduce how much personality is on display too.

“I think it’s still very important that it’s clear as drivers we can still voice our opinions. I don’t think F1 should go in a direction with rules or the direction of limiting what we can do or say and influence us drivers because we are only wanting to do things for the best. We don’t want to use it in any wrongdoing way.

“We are doing it because we have a lot of fans, millions of fans, millions of viewers, who we want to influence, guide and use to help, or to help them personally. We should have freedom of speech. We should be able to say and do we what we want – that’s what defines people, this is what creates us, what makes us humans.

“There always needs to be good reasoning to do so. It’s better when as a community, as F1, we come forward as a group. We give statements and so on, the drivers and ourselves should be able to have our own say in anything at the same time. As long as we have freedom of speech I think that’s something that F1 are supporting then I am happy.

“If things start to get blocked off and we can’t even talk and say anything then no one is going to want to do media because you just can’t say anything. Everything is going to turn into a robot and say the same things over and over again. We need it. We’re just trying to help people in the world, give advice and so on. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to do that.”