Charles Leclerc
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Charles Leclerc drove the best time in the Ferrari in the first practice session. © Darron Cummings/AP/dpa

At the premiere of Formula 1 in Miami, the world championship leader sets the first exclamation mark. On the sidelines of the first rounds in Florida, a debate about jewelry and underwear causes a stir.

World championship leader Charles Leclerc snagged the first best time in practice on the debut of Formula 1 in Miami. The Ferrari driver relegated the British George Russell in the Mercedes to second place with a lead of 0.071 seconds.

World champion Max Verstappen finished third in the Red Bull. Before the fifth round of the season on Sunday (9.30 p.m. / Sky), Monegasse Leclerc leads the overall standings 27 points ahead of Dutchman Verstappen. Both have won two races each.

The first practice rounds in Florida were sobering for Sebastian Vettel and Mick Schumacher. Vettel did not get past 14th place in his Aston Martin. Schumacher finished penultimate at the home game of his US team Haas.

Jewelry ban in focus

Before the training, the tightened procedure of the rulers against wearing jewelry and private underwear in the cockpit had caused discussions. “It’s a step backwards for our sport. It’s such a small thing, totally unnecessary,” said Lewis Hamilton. He therefore also turned to the head of the world association, Mohammed bin Sulayem. When he appeared at the official press conference, the 37-year-old wore three watches, several rings on his hands, a number of necklaces and earrings.

The German race director Niels Wittich had previously informed the teams that in future they would also have to certify in official documents that their drivers would not wear jewelry or private underwear in the car. Wittich also announced spot checks.

“If they stop me, then so be it. We have a backup driver,” Hamilton said. He could not easily take off at least two of his jewelry. “They’re made of platinum, so they’re not magnetic. They have never been a safety problem,” said the Briton. Formula 1 has “more important things to do” than dealing with this topic. “That’s very, very stupid,” Hamilton said.

Vettel with a protest

Sebastian Vettel showed solidarity with the Mercedes star and showed disobedience. Before the first practice laps, the Hessian ran through the pit lane with gray boxer shorts pulled over his racing suit.

The world association Fia states that the reason for the measures is that rings, chains or piercings could pose unnecessary obstacles for first responders and doctors in emergencies. In addition, jewelry on the skin as a heat conductor can reduce the protective effect of overlying fireproof clothing. “This increases the risk of burns in a fire,” it says. Last but not least, the jewelry itself carries the risk of injury and could be swallowed in the event of an accident.

It is also not permitted to wear commercial underwear, which is allegedly still common practice for some drivers. Only fireproof clothing that meets FIA Formula 1 standards is permitted. dpa

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