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Lewis Hamilton and his fellow Formula One drivers face huge penalties for failing to comply with the FIA’s strict jewellery rules. The Mercedes ace and the governing body are embroiled in a tense spat over accessories.
New FIA race director Niels Wittich has taken a stronger stance on jewellery than successor Michael Masi. “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,” FIA rules state.
But the FIA had previously had a much softer position on that law. It allowed Hamilton and colleagues to continue wearing earrings and other accessories while driving.
Hamilton has agreed to take out some of his piercings ahead of the Miami Grand Prix and has been given a two-race notice to allow him to remove some that are difficult to take out. He previously joked that he would need to chop off his right ear as one earring is welded into his skin.
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Hamilton took a more serious tone on Friday, saying: “I feel like it’s almost like a step backwards if you think of the steps we’re taking as a sport and the more important issues and causes that we need to focus on.
“It seems unnecessary to get into this spat. I think we’ve made such great strides for the sport… and this is such a small thing.”
And drivers who refuse to remove jewellery face heavy punishments. There are no officially confirmed penalties but, according to Auto Motor und Sport, a first offence will incur a £42,700 fine – in addition to a £21,350 suspended penalty.
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Repeat offenders risk being fined £85,400, plus the £21,350 from the probationary period. A third violation is apparently worth around £213,500 and the deduction of 10 championship points per offence. Teams who do not tell the ‘truth’ about their drivers’ jewellery risk being fined £213,500.
Former world champion Jenson Button agrees with the FIA and has pointed out that the rules are there to protect drivers at all times – not just when on the circuit. He told Sky Sports: “It is not just what happens at the circuit, it is when they take the crash helmet off, is it going to pull on the ear and then the marshal feels bad that he’s hurt you?
“Or, it could be if you are taken to the hospital and they have to do an x-ray or an MRI, you can’t have metal in your face either. It is a tricky one and it is weird we are talking about it. There are so many things to talk about in motorsport and F1 at the moment and we are talking about that.”
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