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Ornately hung: Lewis Hamilton. © Wilfredo Lee/AP/dpa

Lewis Hamilton’s protests and Sebastian Vettel’s appearance in his underpants don’t help. The Formula 1 rule guardians remain firm on the ban on jewelry and private underwear in the car.

Miami – Lewis Hamilton lost the showdown with the German race director for earrings and piercings for the time being.

Despite fierce objections, the Formula 1 record world champion in Miami bowed to the instructions of the new rule keeper Niels Wittich and got rid of almost all the jewelry before climbing into the cockpit. For his nose piercing, which probably has to be professionally removed, the Mercedes superstar received a special permit until the Grand Prix in Monaco at the end of May.

Vettel protests in boxer shorts

Hamilton had previously resisted the tightened requirements and described them as “very, very stupid”. Race director Wittich had informed the teams in Miami that in future they would have to provide official documents stating that their drivers would not wear jewelry or private, non-fireproof underwear in the car. The ban has been in the rules for a long time and is intended to ensure more safety. Wittich also announced spot checks.

Sebastian Vettel had sided with an angry Hamilton. “It’s personal freedom. We are old enough to make our own decisions. Then we should be able to do that in the car as well,” said the 34-year-old. As a sign of disobedience, Vettel walked through the pit lane before the opening practice session in Florida with gray boxer shorts pulled over his racing suit. “It was more of a gag. The whole discussion is so stupid,” the Aston Martin driver told Sky TV.

Ralf Schumacher criticizes drivers: “Kindergarten”

TV expert Ralf Schumacher vigorously disagreed. “It’s a bit silly and it reminds me of kindergarten,” said the former Formula 1 driver. Schumacher referred to the role model function of world champions such as Vettel and Hamilton. It’s a shame “that experienced people who have seen so many accidents make fun of it in this way,” said the 46-year-old.

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 accidents.

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

Hamilton had initially turned to Fia President Mohammed bin Sulayem. If necessary, he wanted to sign that he was wearing the jewelry at his own risk. After all, he has been on the track for 16 years. Formula 1 has “more important things to do” than dealing with this topic. “This is a step backwards for our sport,” said the Brit.

Big fines

But Wittich and the Fia remained firm. The race director, who has been in office together with the Portuguese Eduardo Freitas since the start of the season, interprets the rules more strictly than his predecessors. The Hessian civil engineer was most recently race director in the German Touring Car Masters. Wittich has the cross to fight through the dispute, said Ralf Schumacher. “Sebastian and Lewis will bite their teeth because they are simply wrong,” said the Sky specialist.

The fines for violating the ban on jewelry and improper clothing in the car are steep. The first offense will be punished with a fine of 50,000 euros, reported the specialist magazine “Auto, Motor und Sport”. Repeat offenders would have to pay 125,000 euros. The third time it costs 250,000 euros and several World Cup points. A multi-millionaire like Hamilton thinks twice. dpa

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