Lewis Hamilton: 'I don't want to fight over F1 jewellery issue... this is silly'

F1

Lewis Hamilton has said that he'll sit out the 2022 Miami Grand Prix if he's banned from racing with a nose ring and earrings, claiming that there are no safety issues.

Lewis Hamilton in sunglasses ahead of the 2022 Miami Grand Prix

Mario Renzi/F1 via Getty Images

Lewis Hamilton has described a clampdown on wearing jewellery during races as “a step backwards” after teams were forced to declare that drivers won’t wear watches, chains and piercings as part of the scrutineering process.

The seven-time champion has been given a temporary two-race exemption, allowing him to race at the Miami Grand Prix with a noise stud, which he says cannot be removed easily. It comes after Hamilton said that he would sit out the race if the sport’s governing body, the FIA, enforces its safety regulations rigidly and prevents drivers from wearing any jewellery in the cockpit.

“I’ve been wearing jewellery for 16 years,” said Hamilton in a press conference ahead of the Miami Grand Prix. “In the car I’ll have my earrings and my nose ring, which I can’t even move so it seems unnecessary for us to get into this spat. It’s never been a safety issue in the past.

“If they stop me then so be it,” he added, “We’ve got a spare driver all ready and prepped for the weekend. There’s lots to do in the city anyway, so I’ll be good either way.”

Starting from the Miami Grand Prix, teams must declare that their drivers will not wear jewellery while racing as part of the scrutineering process, which must be completed before cars are allowed on track.

Mercedes initially did not do this for Hamilton, but after discussions between the team and the FIA, it appeared that it had backed down, with Hamilton agreeing to remove his earrings for the race and being given the two-race grace period for the nose ring.

Hamilton previously said that he has attempted to call the FIA’s president Mohammed Ben Sulayem to discuss the issue and offer to sign a waiver that absolve the body of responsibility in the event of a jewellery-related injury.

“I’m willing to sign a waiver to take the responsibility away from them,” added the Mercedes driver. “I sent him a message just reassuring him that I want to be an ally. I don’t want to fight with you guys over this: it’s very, very silly, let’s have a great weekend.”

Lewis Hamilton wearing 3 watches in Miami GP press conference

Hamilton was wearing three watches at the Miami press conference and joked that he couldn’t get any more jewellery on — but only wears earrings and a nose ring during races

Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Hamilton has been at the forefront of F1’s drive into the US. He appeared on Good Morning America earlier this week, as well as taking part in a charity golf tournament with the legendary NFL quarterback Tom Brady. At a time when F1 is aiming to consolidate its growing popularity in the States, even the impression that Hamilton could be banned for wearing a small nose ring is likely to weigh on the sport’s reputation.

The FIA has long banned the wearing of jewellery while racing over fears that it could transmit heat in the case of a fire and increase burn injuries. There are also concerns that piercings and chains could prevent helmets, balaclavas and overalls from being removed after an accident.

The rule is part of the FIA’s International Sporting Code and states: “The wearing of jewellery in the form of body piercing or metal neck chains is prohibited during the competition and may therefore be checked before the start.”

However, little attention has been paid to the regulations in recent years until one of F1’s new race directors, Niels Wittich, reminded drivers of them in his notes ahead of the Australian Grand Prix.

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Two races later in Miami, the FIA published a note setting out that teams must declare their drivers are in compliance with the jewellery rule as part of the scrutineering process which must be completed before the first practice session. Teams are only able to race once “the technical delegate has confirmed to the competitor that he is satisfied the declaration has been fully and correctly completed”.

Asked about the issue, drivers sided with Hamilton. George Russell and Sergio Perez were among those who agreed that drivers should have the freedom to decide to wear jewellery or not.

Pierre Gasly said that it was more than just vanity: “I have 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.

“I do feel it’s a little bit personal, you know, 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 and put our life at risk.”

Despite his wearing a face mask, Hamilton appeared bemused that the jewellery issue had blown up suddenly. “We’ve got bigger fish to fry, bigger things to do, more impact to have. That’s really where the focus should be,” he added.

“I feel like it’s almost 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 be focused on.”

The FIA’s note on jewellery detailed how the rule was imposed to ensure optimum protection in the case of a fire. “The wearing of jewellery underneath the required flameproof clothing can reduce the protection afforded by this equipment,” it said. “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.”

It also raised concerns that jewellery could hinder medical scans if they were needed, although Hamilton countered by saying that his jewellery was platinum. “It’s not magnetic,” he said. “I’ve had so many MRI scans [and] not had to take out the platinum.”