Formula 1 drivers not adhering to regulations on jewellery and underwear could experience ‘years of agony and pain’, according to the head of the Grand Prix Drivers’ association.
Despite the jewellery and underwear ban leading to multiple jokes on the grid – and many awkward headlines – drivers have been warned the rules are no laughing matter.
F1’s governing body, the FIA, have publicly reinforced a longstanding rule on a driver’s bodywear, which has been rebuffed by a number of the sport’s stars, including Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel.
The regulations state that the use of synthetic, non-flameproof materials in contact with the driver’s skin is not authorised, while all jewellery is banned from the cockpit.
Leewis Hamilton was seen wearing an abundance of silverware in a press conference ahead of the Miami GP in a clear dig at the FIA, while Aston Martin’s Vettel went a step further by walking around the paddock with a pair of pants over his race suit.
However, the FIA have stood firm, and Hamilton has even been warned he could be forced out of the Monaco Grand Prix on May 29 if he doesn’t take out a nose piercing he said he ‘can’t remove’.
“I can’t remove at least two of them,” Hamilton said. “One I can’t really explain where it is.
“If they stop me [racing] then so be it, we’ve got a spare driver, there’s lots to do in the city anyway so I’ll be good either way.”
Despite the opposition on the grid, head of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association, Alex Wurz, has explained why the rule is so important, but the message has been lost.
The former McLaren and Williams driver said: “It is a rule for the right reasons.
“I would have probably liked a slightly different approach of how to deliver the message.
“I don’t want to end up in football where there are more hands in the air and verbal abuse, you have to work together. It’s a style I would have preferred in this case.”
But even with the message being lost, Wurz was keen to re-establish it, citing an example of how non-regulation bodywear can be disastrous in the case of a car fire.
Recalling a talk by Danish driver Kris Nissen who was burned in a sports car race in 1988, Wurz was left disturbed by the damage non-fire retardant bodywear can cause.
Wurz said: “He showed his body and said ‘look at this’.
“For him the absolute most painful thing after fire, and it wasn’t a long fire, was the rubber in his normal pants being burnt into the skin.
“He said [it was] for years agony and pain. And it educated me.
“At this moment I said I don’t want to live these consequences, only for taking my pants off and putting fireproof underpants on. The same with jewellery.”
Just as recently as 2020, former F1 driver Romain Grosjean was left scarred for life in a horrifying crash at the Bahrain Grand Prix, needing surgery on his hands despite only being in the cockpit for a short space of time.