Lewis Hamilton has been told the F1 jewellery ban for drivers is being imposed for the “right reasons” as the fallout over the ruling continues.
The clampdown was announced by FIA bosses ahead of this month’s Miami Grand Prix, with Hamilton initially defiant. The seven-time world champion turned up to his Thursday media duties sporting three watches, eight rings and four necklaces.
He even threatened to boycott the race if officials ordered him to remove the items before competing, saying: “We have a spare driver. There’s lots to do in the city, I’ll be good either way.” However, the British driver then retracted his stance, and agreed to compromise by removing his ear piercings.
He was however, given a two-race exemption for his nose studs, with officials accepting they would require surgery to be removed. Following Miami, that allowance will seemingly expire after the Spanish Grand Prix on May 22, leaving Hamilton’s place in the field for Monaco a week later in serious doubt.
Whilst in America, Hamilton argued that there were bigger issues for F1 chiefs to be worrying about, but now Alex Wurz, who raced 69 times in F1 for the likes of Benetton, McLaren and Williams, has hit back. The Austrian is heavily involved in driver safety and education.
“It is a rule for the right reasons,” he told Reuters, before conceding the issue could have been handled better. “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.”
It isn’t the only divisive new measure, with F1 chiefs also looking to strongly enforce drivers wearing fireproof under-garments. Sebastian Vettel took aim at that notion in America by comically wearing his boxer shorts over his driver overalls before first practice.
Wurz did, however, present a poignant argument for imposing that regulation. He recalled a talk he attended as a youngster given by Danish former racer Kris Nissen, who had a high-speed sportscar crash at Japan’s Fuji circuit in 1988.
“He showed his body and said ‘look at this’,” explained Wurz. “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 [not] taking my pants off and putting fireproof underpants on. The same with jewellery.”
The two measures aren’t new in F1 circles, but have been seemingly reinforced since FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem came to post late last year. New race director Niels Wittich is also said to be strongly against drivers wearing jewellery.