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Evening Standard

Lewis Hamilton criticises F1 jewellery ban as ‘step backwards’ in improving sport’s culture

Lewis Hamilton has criticised Formula One for taking a “step backwards” in its efforts to improve the sport’s culture - by attempting to enforce an old rule over wearing jewellery in the car.

F1’s joint race director Niels Wittich once again reiterated the ban ahead of the Miami Grand Prix, which uniquely affects the 37-year-old driver given his inability to remove certain facial piercings.

Hamilton, who has pushed for the sport to improve its diversity and open-mindedness, said he will speak to FIA president Mohammed bin Sulayem about the matter having vowed not to remove his jewellery to race.

He told reporters: “I feel like it’s a step backwards, if you think about the steps we’re taking as a sport and the more important issues and causes that we need to be focused on.

“I think we made such great strides as a sport, we’re here in Miami, it’s such a small thing. I’ve been in the sport for 16 years, I’ve 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. So it seems unnecessary for us to get into this spat. I’ll try to communciate and work with Muhammed, I’m here to be an ally to the sport, Muhammed and F1 but I think we’ve got bigger fish to fry and that’s where the focus should be.”

Hamilton, who donned three watches, bracelets, a set of necklace chains, rings on each finger and his customary earrings and nose rings as he addressed the media on Friday, expects his Mercedes car to once again be off the leaders’ pace around Miami.

“We’ll be giving it our all and trying our best, there’s been a huge amount of work going on in the background,” he noted.

“We’ve got a new rear-wing for example, so I’m just grateful for everyone continuing to keep their heads down. I don’t anticipate [being further up the grid].”