Toto Wolff feels FIA’s crackdown on drivers’ political statements “Isn’t that bad”

17 January, 2023

Formula 1’s governing body caused quite a debate when they announced their decision to ban drivers from making any non-neutral political or religious comment in public without prior consent from the said body. While this brought the freedom of expression into picture, some other individuals feel this is not a bad call to take in the current climate. 

One of those people who have backed FIA’s decision is Toto Woff, the boss of Team Mercedes. While suggesting that only time can tell how this decision pans out, he also mentioned that sports is supposed to unite people and not divide them further with political comments. 

“We need to see how this really pans out,” he explained. “We understand that sports are here to not make politics but, on the contrary, unite. I have no doubt that Mohammed and the FIA mean well, to achieve the right things. It’s just about aligning that with the drivers that have been more outspoken in the past.

“Every time I know when Mohammed has spoken to Lewis, or the other way around, it has ended up in a positive conversation. So I have no doubt that once people sit at the table together, things will not appear as harsh as when they are being written down in the off-season.”

In the latest update provided by FIA of its International Sporting Code, which governs the running of sanctioned motorsport competitions from the start of 2023, the organisation outlined a new offence.

The new rules have emerged in the wake of several drivers, including former world champions Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, making use of the F1 platform to talk and push about various social issues that mean a lot to them. Lewis has been actively advocating the anti-racism around the world, whilst Vettel advocates regularly for climate change.  

While the FIA’s heavy-handed tactics were criticised for being an unnecessary move, Wolff is open-minded about exactly how draconian things will be. However, there were some other bosses of teams, like James Vowles from Williams, who was extremely unhappy with this call. He felt that silencing the drivers is not a right thing to do and expected for a change in this policy in near future.