Lewis Hamilton prepares for showdown with Formula One ‘bling’ police
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Lewis Hamilton suggested on Friday he was prepared to defy the International Automobile Federation’s (FIA) jewellery clampdown, even if it means missing this weekend’s inaugural Miami Grand Prix.
Formula One has unenforced rules on driver jewellery, but that relaxed attitude changed with Race Director Niels Wittich’s guidelines for Sunday’s race.
He wrote that driver jewellery and underwear should be checked, to ensure they comply with the FIA’s fire-proof safety standards.
Lewis Hamilton told a pre-race press conference he was not prepared to shed his bling.
“If they stop me, so be it,” he said.
“We have spare drivers, so we’re ready and prepared for the weekend. There is lots to do in this city so, I’ll be good either way!”
Later on four-time champion Sebastian Vettel said he felt that the actions appeared to be aimed at Hamilton.
“Probably, at this stage, it’s more of a personal thing and I feel in a way targeted to Lewis,” said Vettel.
Lewis Hamilton wore 3 watches to press conference
Hamilton was wearing three watches, a bracelet, earrings, necklaces and a nose stud for the press conference.
“I couldn’t get any more jewellery on,” he joked.
“We have made such great strides as a sport. We are here in Miami and it is such a small thing. I have been in the sport for 16 years. I have been wearing jewellery for 16 years.
“In the car, I only have my earrings on and my nose ring, which I can’t even remove.”
The 37-year-old seven-time world champion said he was prepared to sign a waiver to take responsibility for his own safety and had been trying to make contact with Mohammed Ben Sulayem the new president of the FIA.
“It seems unnecessary for us to get into this spat so I will try to communicate and work with Mohammed. I am here to be an ally of the sport, of Mohammed and F1 and I think we have got bigger fish to fry – things to do, and impact to have, so that is where the focus should be.”
Jewellery became an issue this year when Wittich included a reminder in his pre-race notes ahead of the Australian Grand Prix that it should not be worn.
He has now included jewellery in the scrutineering process for the Miami weekend.
In his notes, Wittich wrote: “Metallic objects, such as jewellery, 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.”
Two drivers were sanctioned at last weekend’s Monaco E-Prix in similar incidents, Pascal Wehrlein and Mitch Evans both taking penalty points on their ‘super licences’ and receiving fines of €1 000 (R16 890) each for wearing metal chains during qualifying.
Aston Martin’s Vettel suggested the topic was trivial.
“We spoke about underpants as well, but really is that the most exciting thing we can talk about?” he asked.
“There’s a concern for safety, obviously, if you have stuff – and if the car does catch fire it would be unpleasant.
“But, on the other hand, to some degree it’s personal freedom and we are old enough to make our choices outside the car… We should be old enough also to make our choices inside the car.”
Lewis Hamilton said his jewellery had never been a problem.
“It’s platinum so it’s not magnetic and it’s never been a safety issue. I’ve had so many MRI scans, for example, and I don’t have to take out my platinum ones…”
He said he would need to “chop my ears off” to remove his earrings and explained he wore three watches because they were set to three different time zones.
By Garrin Lambley © Agence France-Presse