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Daily Mirror

Lewis Hamilton bows to pressure from F1 chiefs amid jewellery stance ahead of Miami GP

Lewis Hamilton has bowed to pressure from Formula One's governing body by removing his ear piercings for the Miami Grand Prix.

Hamilton arrived for Friday's official press conference wearing a ring on every finger, a series of necklaces, a bracelet, earrings in both lobes and three watches - two on his left wrist and one on his right - in a clear show of defiance against the FIA's jewellery ban.

The seven-time world champion also indicated he would even be prepared to withdraw from Sunday's race in protest. But less than three hours later, and following a series of discussions with the FIA, Hamilton performed a U-turn by agreeing to take out his earrings.

The British driver has been granted a two-race medical exemption by the FIA for his nose stud which cannot easily be removed. The ban on drivers wearing jewellery in the cockpit has been in place for a number of years.

However, the ruling is now being strictly enforced by new F1 race director Niels Wittich and Mohammed ben Sulayem, the FIA president. Earlier Hamilton, who finished eighth in first practice, said: "If they stop me then so be it. We've got a spare driver, so we're well prepped for the weekend. There's lots to do in the city anyway."

Dutchman Nick de Vries, 27, who has never raced in F1, is Mercedes ' reserve driver here. The teams received a scrutineering message from the FIA on Thursday afternoon, stating: "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."

Hamilton dons plenty of jewellery during his press conference (Getty Images)

Explaining the ruling, the FIA continued: "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. The wearing of jewellery during the competition can hinder both medical interventions as well as subsequent diagnosis and treatment should it be required following an accident.

"The presence of jewellery can slow the emergency removal of driver safety equipment such as helmet, balaclava, and overalls. Jewellery in and/or around the airway can pose specific additional risks should it become dislodged during an accident and either ingested or inhaled."

Hamilton probably doesn't need any more distractions right now as he struggles to get to the grips with his new Mercedes W13 car. However, both he and George Russell did show signs of improved pace in first practice in Miami.

Hamilton may have been down in eighth, but that was largely due to struggling with traffic on his best laps and apparent understeer in the car. Charles Leclerc was fastest by 0.071 seconds, with Russell second.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen, Leclerc's main title rival, was third, 0.179secs away. A number of other drivers made errors as they got to grips with the new street track around the Hard Rock Stadium.

Valtteri Bottas crashed his Alfa Romeo at turn eight while the luckless Carlos Sainz also had a big spin, at turns four and five. The incident ruined his set of soft tyres and caused a front-right puncture, just hours after he told reporters he wanted a 'clean' weekend.