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Brown on 'tricky' driver gesture ban: F1 must avoid being 'political hotbed'

Zak Brown has defended the FIA's new regulations regarding driver "gestures", and believes a balance needs to be struck to avoid the various statements getting "out of control".

McLaren CEO Zak Brown has defended the FIA's attempts to 'find the right balance' with drivers' personal messaging during Grand Prix weekends. The FIA have made amendments to their International Sporting Code to restrict drivers making "political, religious and personal statements" without prior consent . The change was implemented in response to the increase in drivers making their own statements on a variety of topics during a Grand Prix weekend. World Champions Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel have been actively trying to tackle issues regarding equality, social injustices and environmental debates. When asked for his opinion on the FIA's updated position, Zak Brown sympathised with the sport's organisers, and believed they needed to stop protests getting 'out of control'. "It's tricky, right? Because some of the topics are really good, some are controversial, some are polarising," Brown told ESPN . "I think in general we want to be a sport that is doing good. We just need to find a balance there and not have every start of a race being a new political agenda for someone. I don't think that's healthy as it can detract from what everyone has tuned in to, which is they want to watch a Grand Prix. "I'm glad the door is open for drivers and teams to talk to the FIA if there's an issue they want to discuss. It wasn't a 'You can't do it.' It was 'You can't do it without our permission.' So at least the door is open. "Everyone is allowed freedom of speech. It did get out of control at times with so much messaging going on... does it detract from the focus of the sport? "These drivers can do this stuff in their own time, so I think it is within Formula One and the FIA's right to say here's the code of conduct we expect for you to follow during a Grand Prix weekend. You're free to do whatever you want to do Monday through to Friday, so to speak, but obviously it's at a Grand Prix weekend the drivers have the most cameras on them."

Brown: F1 must avoid being "political hotbed"

F1 will be competing in 20 different countries next season, with Qatar returning to the calendar with a contract until 2032, Brown added that the sport had a duty to be "respectful" to the race hosts, and hoped for any gestures to be carried out in a "noncontroversial" way. "I'm not sure if something triggered it, I don't know if it's coming out of the World Cup [in Qatar] and it being a big topic there," added Brown. "Politics is tricky by nature. That's what they're probably, at a macro level, trying to avoid is let's not have Formula One become a political hotbed for various topics. But it is damned if you do, damned if you don't, on some of these topics. "I think that's what we're trying to avoid, let's not turn Formula One into a political sport. Let's just go racing and be respectful of where we're racing. "There's not a one-size-fits-all in this world for political parties or political agendas, so I think there's a good way that every team, driver, can carry their values in a way that's noncontroversial."

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