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Hamilton prepares for showdown with Grand Prix 'bling' police

By Tim COLLINGS
Platinum lode: Lewis Hamilton showing off his watches and rings at the Miami press conference. ©AFP

Miami (AFP) - 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.

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.

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 1000 euros ($1050) each for wearing metal chains during qualifying.

'Personal freedom'

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."

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.

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Dive Deeper:
Hamilton keeps nose stud after showdown with Grand Prix 'bling' police
Miami (AFP) - After threatening to skip the inaugural Miami Grand Prix over a bling clampdown, Lewis Hamilton removed almost…
Lewis Hamilton to remove ear piercings for Miami Grand Prix
The seven-time world champion defiantly arrived at practice wearing a large amount of jewellery but performed a U-turn after talks…
‘We’ve got a spare driver’ – Lewis Hamilton not backing down in Miami Grand Prix jewellery row
Lewis Hamilton indicated he was ready to withdraw from Sunday's Miami Grand Prix in his ongoing jewellery row with Formula…
Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel branded “childish” over FIA protests
Both Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel shared their annoyance following the FIA’s decision to ban jewellery while competing on the…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Lewis Hamilton bows to pressure from F1 chiefs amid jewellery stance ahead of Miami GP
Lewis Hamilton will not wear ear piercings during the race in Miami this weekend, just hours after threatening to boycott…
Lewis Hamilton refuses to compromise over nose stud in jewellery row with FIA
Seven-times world champion faces fine or points penalty from the FIA if he contravenes strict F1 safety clampdown
Get all your news in one place