Lewis Hamilton flaunts, blasts FIA crackdown with his jewelry prominently displayed

FIA Lewis Hamilton jewelry
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MIAMI GARDENS, Florida — Lewis Hamilton turned up Friday at the Miami Grand Prix wearing every piece of jewelry he could fit on his body, an apparent protest of a crackdown on body piercings by the FIA motorsports governing organization.

“I couldn’t get any more jewelry on today,” the seven-time world champion said.

Hamilton arrived in the paddock wearing an all-denim outfit with several open buttons on his long-sleeved shirt that showed at least four stacked necklaces. Hamilton later emerged in his Mercedes shirt wearing at least three watches and with four rings on each hand. He also has earrings and a nose ring, and said some of the piercings cannot be removed.

The FIA on Thursday tightened its ban on non-regulatory underwear and body piercings by making it part of official scrutineering, meaning such choices are subject to review by race officials.

Four-time champion Sebastian Vettel said he thought FIA was being petty and wondered if the rule was specific for Hamilton.

“I think it is a bit unnecessary to blow this topic up and probably at this stage is more of a personal thing, I feel a particular way targeted to Lewis,” Vettel said. “In a way, there’s a concern for safety, obviously if you have stuff and the car does catch fire. To some degrees, there is personal freedom and we are old enough to make our own choices.”

It isn’t the first time Hamilton and the FIA have clashed over appearance. Hamilton wore a Breonna Taylor shirt in an anti-racism display before and after a September 2020 victory at Mugello, prompting the FIA to consider whether to sanction the superstar, who is the most high-profile driver in F1 (and has spent the week hanging with Tom Brady and other U.S. celebrities).

The governing body for Formula One said drivers may be subjected to checks ahead of the competition because “the wearing of jewelry underneath the required flameproof clothing can reduce the protection afforded by this equipment.”

“Metallic objects, such as jewelry 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,” the FIA wrote. “The wearing of jewelry during the competition can hinder both medical interventions as well as subsequent diagnosis and treatment should it be required following an accident.”

The FIA said jewelry can snag during emergency removal from a car, and can also complicate or delay medical imagining.

“In the worst case, the presence of jewelry during imaging may cause further injury,” the FIA wrote. “Jewelry in and/or around the airway can pose specific additional risks should it become dislodged during an accident and either ingested or inhaled.”

Hamilton has been pushing back since the FIA first announced a potential clampdown and on Friday said he’d sign a waiver assuming all responsibility. He said he has worn his bling while competing for 16 years in F1 without an issue, and also undergone numerous medical imaging sessions also while wearing his jewelry.

Hamilton said he sent new FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem (who has toured Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Daytona International Speedway this week) a message before arriving at the track noting the jewelry fight seemed silly in the big picture and that “I don’t want to fight with you guys, ever.”

He said he hoped for further discussions with Sulayem and the FIA, but sounded prepared to hold his ground.

“If they stop me, then so be it,” Hamilton said. “We’ve got spare drivers ready and prepped for weekends. There’s lots of things going on in the city, anyway, so I’ll be good either way.”

Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Formula One embrace the United States

Verstappen Perez United States
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Last week, Red Bull Racing revealed its new car, the RB19, and a new relationship with Ford Motor Co. in an event in New York City complete with drivers Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and team principal Christian Horner.

It’s the first Formula 1 team to launch in the United States for 2023, but even that small move of the needle reflects a major shift in the attitude of both F1’s management and their teams – and the extent to which the American audience has fully embraced the sport.

“It’s something fantastic and unique, for the sport to be able to break it into the U.S,” Perez told NBC Sports. “The market is huge and it’s a huge opportunity for everyone involved, for the drivers, for the team. It’s always a huge market.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Sergio Perez finished fourth in the Unites States Grand Prix, but he was first with the fans.  – Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

In 2023, Formula 1 will race three times in the United States and five times in North America. The Circuit of the Americas will host their 11th consecutive race in October before heading south to Mexico City. Miami returns for a second time in May on a temporary street course around the Hard Rock cafe and the third addition is in downtown Las Vegas in November.

With the Canadian Grand Prix on the schedule for June and the Brazilian Grand Prix in November, American fans are now in the ballpark of Europeans, who have eight events on the continent and one in England.

In 2022, Verstappen won every race in North America. He was kept from sweeping the hemisphere only by George Russell, who won in Brazil. That fact is less remarkable when one considers that Verstappen won 15 times in the season – nearly two-thirds of the races on the schedule.

By the time Formula arrived in Austin, Texas, for Round 20 of 23, Verstappen already had wrapped up his second consecutive championship.

“Sometimes it can be hard to replicate the season, but I think it’s the same as with the car, right? You always try to improve it,” Verstappen told NBC Sports. “And I always look at the little details that even when you have had a good race, you could have done better. And then of course you also learn from the bad races. So we always try to look for these little improvements and general experience you gain year after year.

“You try to do better, but of course it also depends a lot on the package you have.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Max Verstappen United States Grand Prix win was one of 15 for the drivers and 17 for Red Bull.
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Now Verstappen’s thoughts inevitably will turn to establishing a dynasty, and America will again play a pivotal role.

“I just enjoy what I’m doing,” Verstappen said.  “After the years in Formula One, when you have to be on top of your game and you gain a lot on your experience – in that sense nothing really can get to you anymore. Every year you just try to do the best you can. But a lot depends on the material around you. It’s always a bit of a guess. Start the season as fit as you can be and be well prepared. But if you don’t have the car, you’re not going to win the championship.”

Perez added two wins to Red Bull’s total, at Monaco and the Marina Bay Street course. With two of the US 2023 races on street courses, Perez hopes to close the gap on Verstappen and potentially be his chief rival for the championship.

“The strategy is clear; it is to maximize the potential of the car – and we believe we have a good car, but how good?,” Perez said “We don’t know what the competition is doing. We just give our best in building this car and we hope that it’s good enough to get us to win races.

“I think we have to work together as a team. At the same time. We both want to win the championship. It’s just having good compromise. The competition will be really strong out there, so we really need everything we possibly can get from each other.”

Formula One returns to the United States for Round 6 and the Miami Grand Prix on May 7.