Mercedes boss Toto Wolff believes that greater alignment between Formula 1 drivers and the FIA on political matters is needed, but remains optimistic of drivers speaking about issues.
The FIA recently announced changes to the International Sporting Code whereby any "political, religious or personal statements" from drivers need to be confirmed in writing by the governing body.
It comes after the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel have been vocal in standing up for human and environmental rights in past seasons, with Hamilton leading some drivers in the taking of the knee. He also wore a t-shirt carrying the message 'Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor' on the podium at Mugello in 2020.
Former F1 driver Vettel also received a reprimand for failing to remove a t-shirt he wore in support of the LGBTQ+ community in Hungary amid the introduction of an anti-LGBTQ law in the country in 2021.
Wolff can see where the FIA is coming from with the new rule, but believes that drivers could still be freely able to protest.
Wolff hopeful for drivers
"I think we need to see how this really pans out," he explained to media, including RacingNews365.com.
"We understand that sports are here not to be involved in politics but on the contrary, [are here to] unite, and I have no doubt that the FIA mean well and want to achieve the right things.
"It is just about aligning that with the drivers who have been more outspoken in the past, and every time when [FIA President] Mohammed [Ben Sulayem] has spoken to Lewis, and the other way around, it has ended as a positive conversation.
"I have no doubt that once people sit at the table together, things will not appear as harsh as when they are written down in the off-season."
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Vowles echoes Wolff's thoughts
Incoming Williams Team Principal James Vowles – formerly Wolff's right-hand man for strategy at Mercedes – has also weighed in, and suggested that that providing "people a voice" was important.
"I feel that our drivers, within the remits, have the freedom to be able to express what [they] believe in and what [they] think within a sensible, controlled environment," he explained of political statements.
"It just needs discussion over what was provided, just a good discussion internally because I am sure that we all want the same thing.
"That is [for] the sport to grow and become better, but to provide people a voice at the same time."
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