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MIAMI—Lewis Hamilton made a strong statement against the FIA’s jewelry ban on Friday in more ways than one.
The Mercedes driver showed up to the press conference sporting three watches, eight rings, four necklaces and two earrings. Ahead of the Miami Grand Prix, race director Niels Wittich reminded drivers they could not wear jewelry in the car per the governing body’s International Sporting Code.
“It has never been a safety issue in the past,” Hamilton said. “If they stop me, we have a spare driver. There are lots of things to do here.”
Drivers and teams were given a declaration form that clarified what clothing the athletes could wear under their overalls due to safety reasons.
According to ESPN, Wittich’s clarification said: “The wearing of jewellery during the competition can hinder both medical interventions as well as subsequent diagnosis and treatment should it be required following an accident. The presence of jewellery can slow, due to the risk of “snagging”, the emergency removal of driver safety equipment such as helmet, balaclava, and overalls.”
It added: “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.”
When asked about the ban, Hamilton joked about how he “couldn’t get any more jewelry on today.” The driver has two piercings that he said would be difficult to remove, but they are “platinum… so it’s not magnetic. It’s never been a safety issue in the past.
“In 16 years, I’ve had so many MRI scans and not had to take out the platinum.”
If it came to the governing body preventing Hamilton from racing due to wearing jewelry, the seven-time world champion said “so be it.”
“I feel like it’s almost like a step backwards, if you think about the steps we are taking as a sport, and the more important issues and causes that we need to be focused on,” he said. “I think we’ve made really great strides as a sport. Look, we’re here in Miami. This is such a small thing. I’ve been in the sport for 16 years and I’ve been wearing jewelry for 16 years. In the car, I only ever have my earrings on and my nose ring, of which I can’t even remove. It seems unnecessary for us to get into this spat.”
Hamilton said he has tried to contact FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem to discuss the issue, adding that he “wanted to reassure him and said: ‘I want to be an ally. I don’t want to fight with you guys over this.’”
According to BBC’s Andrew Benson, Hamilton “has removed his earrings in the car and has been given a two-race exemption for his nose ring, which he cannot remove himself.”
But the Mercedes driver is not the only one who has an issue with the ban. AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly said he wouldn’t feel comfortable racing without wearing a religious symbol.
“I do understand [Hamilton's comments]. I do believe there are bigger things to focus on,” Gasly said, per ESPN. “…I have a religious item that I wear with me when I’m racing, which is important to me. I don’t feel comfortable not having that in the car. I do feel like it’s personal; we should have the freedom to do what we feel is right for us.
“At the end of the day, we have the responsibility to go out there and put our lives at risk. It should be a personal choice.”
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