Lewis Hamilton has agreed to remove his ear piercings for the Miami GP despite calling F1’s jewellery ban a “step backwards” and “unnecessary”.
Hamilton had looked set to defy the FIA’s ruling on drivers wearing jewellery – which is part of the scrutineering process for this weekend’s Miami GP – and in Friday’s press conference even joked that he would be willing to miss a race should the sport’s governing body insist on their demand.
But hours later and following discussions with the FIA, Hamilton back down and removed his ear piercings.
Drivers have also been given a two-race dispensation to look at other aspects of their jewellery, meaning Hamilton does not yet have to part with his nose stud – which is welded on and would have to be surgically removed.
Sky Sports News’ Craig Slater reported that “will be further discussions between drivers, teams and the FIA to see if the rules themselves could be changed. For example, if the drivers can prove to the FIA their jewellery is safe”.
The ban on drivers wearing jewellery in the cockpit is focussed on safety and has been in place for a number of years.
But the ruling is now being strictly enforced by new F1 race director Niels Wittich and Mohammed ben Sulayem, the FIA president.
In his Miami GP notes, F1’s new race director Niels Wittich stated that jewellery “can reduce the protection afforded by” drivers’ racewear, increasing the risk of burn injuries and potentially hindering medical interventions.
Hamilton had earlier suggested he would defy the rule.
“I feel like it’s almost like a step backwards if you think of the steps we’re taking as a sport and the more important issues and causes that we need to focus on,” he said while decked in jewellery in the press conference.
“It seems unnecessary to get into this spat.
“I think we’ve made such great strides for the sport… and this is such a small thing.”
Hamilton also said his jewellery “has never been a safety issue in the past” while he added on what the consequences could be: “If they stop me, so be it.
“We’ve got spare drivers who are ready and prepped for the weekend. There’s a lot to do in the city anyway so I’m good either way.”
Hamilton reveals FIA contact | Vettel: He’s being targeted
Eager to avoid a collision course with the FIA, Hamilton revealed on Friday that he had messaged new president Mohammed Ben Sulayem about the rule.
“I reassured him that I want to be an ally, I don’t want to fight with you guys over this,” said Hamilton.
“It’s about individuality and being who you are. This is very, very silly.”
Hamilton also explained: “I’ve been in the sport for 16 years and I’ve been wearing jewellery for 16 years.
“I think we’ve got bigger fish to fry, bigger things to do, more impact to have and so I think that’s really where the focus should be.”
Hamilton added that he would happily sign a waiver that allowed him to continue wearing jewellery in the car and took the safety responsibility away from the FIA.
He was also backed by his fellow drivers, with Pierre Gasly – sitting next to Hamilton in the press conference – particularly supportive.
“I appreciate the FIA looking after our safety,” said Gasly. “But in my personal case I have also religious items that I wear with me, when I’m racing, which are important to me, which I don’t feel comfortable not having with me driving the car.
“And I do feel it’s a little bit personal. We should have the freedom to do what feels right for us.
“At the end of the day, we have the responsibility to go out there, put our lives at risk… and I do feel it should be a personal choice. But I respect the FIA and their will to always improve the safety.”
Four-time F1 world champion Sebastian Vettel added: “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 particular in a way targeted to Lewis. We are old enough to make our own choices.”
What is the FIA’s guidance on jewellery?
In his pre-Miami GP notes, race director Wittich confirmed a crackdown on jewellery, as well as drivers wearing normal underwear beneath their approved flameproof underwear – which is believed to be the FIA’s bigger concern.
The note on jewellery read: “Metallic objects, such as jewellery, in contact with the skin can reduce heat transmission protection and thus may increase the risk of burn injuries in the event of a fire.
“The wearing of jewellery during the competition can hinder both medical interventions as well as subsequent diagnosis and treatment should it be required following an accident.
“The presence of jewellery can slow, due to the risk of “snagging”, the emergency removal of driver safety equipment such as helmet, balaclava, and overalls.
“In the case that medical imaging is required to inform diagnosis following an accident the presence of jewellery on the body can cause significant complication and delay.
“In the worst case the presence of jewellery during imaging may cause further injury.
“Jewellery in and/or around the airway can pose specific additional risks should it become dislodged during an accident and either ingested or inhaled.”