Red Bull star Perez says drivers ‘not comfortable’ with new FIA rules

Red Bull designer Newey admits 2023 looks 'tough' amid testing restrictions

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Red Bull star Sergio Perez claims that he and his F1 colleagues are uncomfortable with having their freedom to express political or religious views restricted by the FIA. Lewis Hamilton is also among the drivers to pile pressure on the governing body’s chief, Mohammed ben Sulayem, ahead of the new season. 

Hamilton and four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel have both raised prominent issues in recent years, using their platform to draw attention to causes such as Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ+ rights. 

As of 2023, however, the FIA have decided that drivers will need written permission to express political or religious views. Perez has offered an opinion in line with his Mercedes rival, Hamilton, who claimed that he would ‘rather not race anymore’ if his freedom to defend human rights is restricted. 

Speaking at Red Bull’s 2023 season launch in New York on Friday, Perez claims that drivers ‘do not feel comfortable’ with the restrictions imposed, adding: “We want to be ourselves and we want to be able to express ourselves in any way that we want.

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“We all have differing views and differing beliefs in religious ways. I get the political side but we all should be free to express ourselves the way we want. I believe in this sport it is important to express yourself.

“There are some younger drivers that I think they will struggle to know what you can say or what you cannot say. That to me, is not correct. But we will discuss that.” Red Bull team principal Christian Horner also spoke out on the matter during the launch, which saw an engine partnership announced with Ford from 2026 onwards. 

“We certainly at Red Bull have never constrained our drivers of their freedom of speech, or the ability to speak their minds because they do have a voice,” explained the 49-year-old. “I think it’s a matter of finding a balance.

“In the world that we live in today, everybody has a voice and that shouldn’t be suppressed. But of course, it does have to be done responsibly. So, we don’t want a load of robots that are without a opinion going racing. Like with all things, it just has to be a sensible balance.”

Red Bull’s launch was hotly anticipated after they swept the Constructors’ Championship last year, leaving nearest challengers Ferrari more than 200 points behind. On an individual level, Max Verstappen is preparing his bid to add a third consecutive world title to his glittering F1 CV. 

The Dutchman won 15 Grands Prix in 2022 – a new record for one driver in a single season – while Perez was left in the dust with only two victories of his own. The new campaign is due to get underway in Bahrain, where Red Bull and their revamped competitors will see the lights go out on March 5. 

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