Motor racing-F1 drivers need clarity on political statements, says Albon

FILE PHOTO: Formula One F1 - Brazilian Grand Prix - Jose Carlos Pace Circuit, Sao Paulo, Brazil - November 10, 2022 Williams' Alexander Albon during a press conference ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

GROVE, England (Reuters) - Formula One drivers need more guidance from the governing FIA on what they can say at races this season after a rule change caused concern, Williams driver Alex Albon said on Monday.

The FIA updated the International Sporting Code last December with a clause requiring prior written permission for drivers to make or display "political, religious and personal statements or comments".

The move has been a pre-season talking point, with uncertainty about how it might be applied in practice.

"It seems quite a broad subject ... we need clarity from the FIA on what they are trying to tell us," Albon told reporters during a livery launch at the team's factory.

"On a personal side it is somewhat confusing ... we were very much for 'We Race As One' and all these kind of situations and so now it seems like the FIA are trying to go away from that," he added.

"So we need to see. We need to be open in dialogue about what they are trying to do. We need to be able to speak freely to some extent. I'm sure we're going to get clarity later on what really they are trying to say."

Formula One launched its "We Race As One" diversity, inclusion and sustainability platform in 2020, with drivers gathered on the grid pre-race to express their support with a gesture of their choice.

Some drivers, with seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton a vocal advocate for human rights and racial equality, chose to take the knee while others remained standing but wearing T-shirts supporting various causes.

Some have already expressed concern about the move, with Red Bull's Sergio Perez saying last Friday that they needed to be able to speak freely.

Human rights groups have also criticised the FIA's position.

"A lot of people come to us and look at us as spokespeople for issues around the world and I do feel like it is a responsibility for drivers to make people aware of these kind of situations," said Albon.

"We're all concerned," added the British-born Thai.

The season starts in Bahrain on March 5.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ken Ferris)

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