Lewis Hamilton raised some eyebrows in the Formula One paddock when he donned a t-shirt stating “arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor” on the podium at the Tuscan Grand Prix. While the FIA denied that they would penalize Hamilton for the shirt, it did implement a new rule that explicitly bans anything but race suits on the podium. That means no political t-shirts allowed.
Ahead of the Russian Grand Prix, race director Michael Masi read through the traditional post-race rules in a pre-race driver’s meeting. This time around, though, there was an addition:
For the duration of the podium ceremony and post-race interview procedure, the drivers finishing in race in positions 1, 2, 3 must remain attired only in their driving suits, ‘done up’ to the neck, not opened to the waist. For the avoidance of doubt this includes a medical face mask or team branded face mask.
And it doesn’t just include the podium. Any driver that finishes the race must wear the appropriate team attire during the press pool after the race.
There’s also a deletion in the rules. Pre-race procedures currently dictate that drivers should wear F1's official anti-racism t-shirt, and it also included a line that said it was appropriate that, instead of the official t-shirt, a driver could do “anything else a driver may feel comfortable to do.” That crucial last line was removed.
Breonna Taylor was a Black medical technician who was shot and killed by police who entered her home in Louisville, Kentucky. Her murder has sparked political protests around the world, but the large majority of protests have taken place in the United States, where racist sentiment is prevalent.
Before the ruling, Hamilton expressed the sentiment that he would ultimately find a way to advocate for his causes in some other, FIA-approved way.
“ I don’t regret a single moment of it,” Hamilton said of his message in a press conference on Thursday. “I usually follow my heart and do what I feel is right. People talk about sport not being a place for politics. Ultimately, it’s a human rights issue, and in my opinion that is something we should be pushing towards.
“We have a huge collective group of amazing people who watch our sport from multiple different backgrounds and cultures. We should definitely be pushing positive messages towards them, especially for equality.”