Stefano Domenicali, CEO of Formula 1, has made a bold statement regarding drivers’ freedom of expression. The recent ban on unapproved statements imposed by the FIA in the updated International Sporting Code has caused controversy among drivers such as Max Verstappen, Valtteri Bottas, and Alexander Albon. However, in an interview with The Guardian, Domenicali reassured drivers that Formula 1 will support them in their right to speak out on important issues.
“F1 will never put a gag on anyone,” Domenicali stated. “Everyone wants to talk so to have the platform to say what they want in the right way the better it is.” The CEO emphasized that Formula 1 should be a platform for open and respectful discussion.
“We have a huge opportunity because of the position of our sport which is more and more global, multicultural and multivalued,” Domenicali said. “We are talking about 20 drivers, 10 teams and many sponsors, they have different ideas, different views. I cannot say one is right, one is wrong but it is right, if needed, to give them a platform to discuss their opinions in an open way.”
The CEO also acknowledged the role of the FIA in regulating the sport. “I believe the FIA will clarify what has been stated, in terms of respecting certain places where you cannot do it,” he said. “I am sure the FIA will share the same view as F1 but they are part of an Olympic federation so there are protocols to which they have to abide.”
Domenicali explained that Formula 1 is keeping communication open with the drivers to keep them involved. “We keep monitoring the situation. We keep the drivers informed, we meet with the Grand Prix Drivers’ Associations to discuss it,” he said. “How we can allow the drivers to be open as human beings in our sport. Athletes can be very emotional and passionate about some things and they need to discuss that constructively with people they trust.”
In conclusion, Domenicali emphasized the importance of having a constructive dialogue within the sport. “I had a discussion with the drivers about this last year. About how F1 could be a platform, to have a spotlight on certain things we believe are right to talk about,” he said. “F1 should help the drivers if they want to discuss certain subjects. It is important to have a very constructive dialogue. If this is not happening it can create either confusion or problems where there need not be problems.”