There appears to be a battle looming between participants of Formula One, including the Alpine F1 team, and the FIA. The dispute is over the historic FIA’s insistence that all the participants in the sport refrain from making political statements.
The new President of the sport’s governing body has been quite vocal on the issue this week. Speaking to GrandPrix247 Ben Sulyamen was asked whether F1 was becoming too political. He replied: “Sadly, in a way yes. You try to separate sport from politics. We have it in our FIA status ‘neutrality’. But I think some people only see neutrality and governance when it suits them.”
Disputes about BLM political gestures and protests over LGBTQ+ rights have surfaced in recent years.
Lewis Hamilton was investigated by the FIA for wearing a t-shirt with a message about the shooting of Breonna Taylor before and after his win at Mugello in 2020.
At the 2021 Hungarian GP Sebastian Vettel wore a rainbow shirt during the national anthem and shortly after the chequered flag, the stewards released a statement saying Vettel would have to see the stewards for an “alleged not following race director’s instruction pre-race procedure”.
The FIA reprimanded Vettel along with Valtteri Bottas, Carlos Sainz and Lance Stroll, who were all wearing their generic We Race As One T-shirts also during the national anthem.
Subsequently new regulations were enacted to prevent driver’s from wearing anything other than team wear as a mark of respect during the playing of the host countries anthem.
Further, only team wear can now be worn at the podium presentation.
It appears that Alpine are now set to test the legality of the FIA’s wording on ‘neutrality’ over political issues as they plan to run a rainbow livery during the month of June.
The team’s CEO Laurent Rossi explains Alpine’s motivation for this action.
“For so long, motorsport has not been representative of the diversity we see in wider society,”
“The LGBTQ+ community has lacked visible representation and support within our industry, and we need to change this.
“We want Alpine to be an open, inclusive and productive place to work and for our employees to feel happy and supported in their workplace. A happy environment gives greater creativity and that is exactly what we need to foster as we move forward.
“To do so, we need to fully understand the challenges some of the under-represented groups in motorsport face. Pride Month is a good place to start; we know that we need to do more to give this community a voice and representation.”
Clearly Alpine will argue this is all part of the ‘diversity’ programme F1 undertook by launching the ‘We Race as One” branding.
For the next 3 races Mercedes too are changing their automotive brand from the sliver three pointed silver star to the “Pride Star” in rainbow colours .
Yet the big question is who decides which minority issues should be raised and challenged and which issues are inappropriate.
It is a minefield for the FIA to govern and given the new Presidents recent comments, it is likely Alpine will see their efforts regulated out of the sport as has previously been the case.
Alonso rant over pay
Formula One has been in turmoil over the budget cap this year. During Covid, the larger teams agreed to cut the spending limit from $170m to $140m for fear smaller teams might not make it through the pandemic. However, the cost of living global crisis which has seen Western countries suffering inflation rates approaching 10% has seen the bigger teams argue the cap should be increased. In the meantime, Fernando Alonso has ranted to the media over the issue of driver pay and its proposed new relationship with the budget cap.
Mercedes have already laid staff off and Ferrari stated they will breach the budget cap this year. There are certain team spend items outside the budget cap and one of those is driver salaries. The suggestions so far from the teams against any….. READ MORE ON THIS STORY