(Reuters) – Formula One drivers should not use the platform provided by the FIA to make statements about their goals, the sports federation's president, Mohammed Ben Sulayem, said on Tuesday.
Formula One drivers will need prior written permission from the sport's governing body to make "political, religious and personal statements" from next season following an update to the International Sporting Code.
Unless written permission is granted by the FIA, pilots who make such statements are now in breach of the rules.
"Our goal is to build bridges. You can use sport for peaceful purposes… But we do not want the FIA to be used as a platform to resolve personal issues,” Ben Sulayem told reporters.
"We are taking a break from sports. What does a driver do best? To go. They are very good, they run businesses, they do shows, they are stars. No one prevents it.
“There are other platforms to express what you want. Everybody has that and they can go through the FIA process, they can.”
Former champions Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel were among high-profile drivers to make similar claims in recent seasons.
Hamilton has advocated for human rights and racial equality, as well as LGBTQ+ rights in conservative countries such as Saudi Arabia, which has hosted two races from 2021.
Vettel, who retired last year, has focused on issues related to LGBTQ rights and climate change.
Ben Sulayem rejected the FIA's idea of firing pilots, saying he wanted to "improve and clean up" the sport.
"I have personal things, but that doesn't mean I'm going to use the FIA for them," said former UAE driver Ben Sulayem.
"I think the FIA should be neutral. We need superstars to play sports.
"If anything, ask permission. Otherwise, if they get it wrong again, it's like racing to pit lane. It's pretty obvious what you get when you do that.'
(Reporting by Rohit Nair in Bangalore; Editing by Christian Radney)