Lewis Hamilton prepared to skip Miami Grand Prix in response to jewellery ban

Mercedes driver attended press conference decked out in rings, necklaces, and studs in both ears

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Seven-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton has said he could rule himself out of this weekend's inaugural Miami Grand Prix in response to the FIA's ban on piercings and jewellery.

The Mercedes driver spoke after race director Niels Wittich issued a reminder to all teams and officials that wearing body piercings and metal neck chains was prohibited during competition and could be checked.

Hamilton, the sport's most successful driver and biggest name in America, has said he cannot remove some of his piercings.

"If they stop me (racing) then so be it. We've got a spare driver," he said. "There's lots to do in the city anyway so I'll be good either way."

FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer said Mercedes had not initially confirmed Hamilton was complying with the rules but later submitted a completed self-scrutineering sheet. He gave no further details.

Hamilton, 37, said he was prepared to sign a waiver to take personal responsibility and suggested all involved had "bigger fish to fry".

The Briton's opposition was evident as he wore rings on every finger, three large watches (set to different time zones), a bangle, strings of necklaces and studs in both ears. A further nose piercing was hidden by his face mask.

"I couldn't get any more jewellery on today," he said, adding that he felt the clampdown was almost a backward step at a time when the sport and governing FIA should be focused on its latest breakthrough in America.

"This is such a small thing," he said. "It seems unnecessary for us to get into this spat."

Asked what the solution might be to an apparent impasse, Hamilton indicated there was only so much he could do.

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"I can't remove at least two of them," he said. "One I can't really explain where it is. But what I can say is it's platinum that I have, so it's non-magnetic, it's never been a safety issue in the past. I've had in 16 years so many MRI scans and not had to take out the platinum."

Wittich had explained in his note that the wearing of jewellery underneath the mandatory flameproof clothing could reduce heat transmission protection and increase the risk of burn injuries. He said it could also hinder medical intervention and treatment due to the risk of 'snagging' when safety equipment such as the helmet, balaclava or overalls were removed.

"In the case that medical imaging is required to inform diagnosis following an accident the presence of jewellery on the body can cause significant complication and delay," the German said.

Hamilton said he had tried without success to speak to FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem, who was elected in December, and wanted to assure the Emirati he was an ally rather than an opponent.

"I'll try and speak to him before the race," he said.

Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel has thrown his support behind Lewis Hamilton. AFP

Rivals sympathised with Hamilton's stance ahead of practice on the track around the Hard Rock Stadium.

"I think it is a bit unnecessary to blow this topic up," said four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, who drives for Aston Martin.

"Probably at this stage it's more of a personal thing and I feel particularly in a way targeted to Lewis. We spoke about underpants as well. Is that the most exciting thing we can talk about?

"To some degree it's personal freedom. We are old enough to make our choices outside the car, we should be old enough to make choices also inside the car."

Updated: May 07, 2022, 5:27 AM
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