He also stressed that he expects the FIA to clarify exactly what the new ruling means.
The FIA has made a change to the international sporting code for 2023 banning driver comments on “political, religious or personal” matters without obtaining prior permission from the governing body.
Due to the winter break, few drivers have publicly responded to the news, although media activity has intensified in recent days, with several expressing their displeasure with the situation, including Alex Albon.
In an interview with The Guardian newspaper, Domenicali appeared to distance himself from the FIA’s decision, insisting that the F1 organization itself was taking a more liberal view.
“F1 will never gag anyone,” said the Italian. “Everyone wants to talk so having the platform to say what they want in the right way the better. We have a huge opportunity because of the position of our sport which is increasingly global, multicultural and multivalued.
“We are talking about 20 drivers, 10 teams and many sponsors, they have different ideas, different points of view. I can’t say one is right, one is wrong, but it is fair, if necessary, to give them a platform to discuss their opinions openly.
“We will not change this approach as a sport. That should be the guiding principle of our sport, giving everyone the opportunity to express themselves in the right way, not with aggressive or offensive tones, but with respect.”
Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo C42, Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo C42
Photo by: Alfa Romeo
Domenicali said he was in regular contact with the drivers about it.
“I had a discussion with the drivers about this last year,” he said. “On how F1 could be a platform, to highlight some things that we think are fair to talk about. F1 has to help the drivers if they want to talk about certain topics.
“It is important to have a very constructive dialogue. If not, it can create confusion or problems where there is no need for problems.
“We continue to monitor the situation. We keep the drivers informed, we meet with the GPDA to discuss it. How can we allow pilots to be open as human beings in our sport.
“Athletes can be very emotional and passionate about certain things, and they need to discuss them constructively with people they trust.”
Domenicali stressed that he expects the FIA to offer a more detailed explanation of what the new decision entails and what it really means for drivers.
“We are talking about a regulation and the regulator is the FIA,” he said. “I think the FIA will clarify what was said, in terms of respecting certain places where you can’t.
“I’m sure the FIA will share the same view as F1, but they are part of an Olympic federation so there are protocols they have to adhere to.
Stefano Domenicali, CEO, Formula 1, and Mohammed Ben Sulayem, President, FIA, on the grid
Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images
Valtteri Bottas has also made it clear that he disagrees with the FIA’s new decision.
“It’s my honest honest feeling and my opinion that I don’t think it’s fair,” the Alfa Romeo driver said when asked by Autosport about his thoughts on the ban.
“Or I don’t think it’s necessary to put it in the regulations that you’re not allowed to say or support whatever you want.
“But if you put yourself in their shoes, we go to different countries, somebody would talk or maybe raise their voice on certain issues, and could create problems, whether it’s for F1 or the promoter, that kind of things.
“So on this side now I get [it]. I don’t think it’s so fair to us. Because I think in this world everyone should have a say in things and their own opinions. This is how I feel.”
When asked if the subject had been discussed via the GPDA WhatsApp group, he replied: “It is classified information! In fact, it’s been pretty quiet in the chat. But yes, it was mentioned.