Nico Hulkenberg responds to FIA’s clampdown on unapproved political statements

Nico Hulkenberg at the post-season test. Abu Dhabi November 2022. Credit: Alamy
Nico Hulkenberg at the post-season test. Abu Dhabi November 2022. Credit: Alamy

Nico Hulkenberg said the new FIA clampdown on unapproved statements is not something that will affect him as he has “never been someone who has used this platform for political messages.”

The sport’s governing body announced in December that Formula 1 personnel and all involved with FIA-sanctioned events would need permission to speak out on matters of interest to them.

In the past, drivers like Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel have worn T-shirts in support of various causes such as anti-racism, climate change and women’s rights.

But in contrast to campaigns such as the F1’s We Race as One, these messages were made without prior approval from the FIA.

Going forwards, that will no longer be allowed as the FIA looks to appease some of the host countries where equal rights for women and the LGBTQ+ community do not exist.

The returning Hulkenberg has declined to fall one way or another on the matter, simply stating it was a “delicate” subject but not one that would affect him as he has never used the platform for “political messages.”

“It’s a delicate, difficult subject,” the new Haas driver told RTL. “We are athletes, we come to a country, a region, to do our job to pursue what we love. I have never been someone who has used this platform for political messages.”

The 35-year-old went on to say the updated rule “won’t affect or impact me that much. It will affect others more. I think it’s a personal story. Everyone has a personal take on it.”

Did FIA wait for Sebastian Vettel’s retirement before rule change?

It is hard to see the merits of the FIA’s updated rule change for as much as they will say it safeguards against controversial messages in Formula 1, the reality is it has never been used for that.

The campaigns focused on last season were all about equal rights and while that seems a fairly universally agreeable topic, the location of some of the races have made it into a so-called political one.

But why now? F1 has long raced in countries that do not look too kindly towards women or non-hetrosexual people so could it be because one of the two most outspoken drivers is no longer on the grid?

The FIA would never confirm it either way but it does seem rather coincidental that as soon as Sebastian Vettel retires, this new rule is introduced, leaving just Lewis Hamilton to fly the flag.

If other drivers felt they could step up in Vettel’s place, this move by the FIA has made it a lot harder.

Read more: The man that brought Oscar Piastri to Europe – ‘From his first test, you could tell he was just fast’

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