MELBOURNE, Australia — Drivers’ underwear, or lack thereof, was an unexpected focal point during Friday night’s Formula 1 driver briefing at Albert Park.
New race director Niels Wittich has informed all drivers ahead of the Australian Grand Prix that the sport will begin to restrict what they are allowed to wear under their racing suits, stressing that he must adhere to long term regulations FIA date.
Under Appendix L of the FIA International Sporting Code, drivers must wear flame retardant underwear to the strict FIA standard. They cannot wear equipment that does not meet the requirements.
“The discussion was long enough [and] a few people have changed some of their underwear protocols,” Alpine Reserve pilot Oscar Piastri, who attended the pilots’ briefing, told Sky Sports. “It’s a controversial topic because you become a commando if you don’t don’t wear yours.”
Drivers will be allowed a number of events before the rules apply. If a driver is found to be non-compliant with these regulations after F1’s grace period, the likely sanction would be a fine or reprimand.
The crackdown on drivers’ underwear comes just 24 hours after Wittich, who replaced Michael Masi as F1 race director earlier this year, released his event notes for the race in Melbourne. In the document, he reminded drivers that jewelry is also prohibited in the car.
“The wearing of jewelry in the form of piercings or metal neck chains is prohibited during the competition and can therefore be checked before the start,” read section 5.1 of the event notes.
The recall caused an entertaining back-and-forth between 2021 title rivals Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen at Friday morning’s pre-race press conference.
Hamilton joked: “I have some piercings that I really can’t get out that not many people know about… No, just kidding, just kidding!”
Verstappen then commented, “I’ll be too heavy if I wear jewelry, so it’s not possible.”
“I know you have a nipple piercing, man. Come on,” Hamilton replied, before Verstappen asked “do you want to see him again?”
However, not everyone sees the silver lining in Wittich’s race director’s strict approach. Red Bull boss Christian Horner believes a slightly more lenient view could be taken, particularly regarding on-track incidents during testing after several drivers were reprimanded for hampering their rivals on Friday.
“I haven’t met the race director yet. Obviously they’re doing the best they can with the rules they have…but there has to be an element of common sense,” Horner said. . “We need to find a way to simplify some of these regulations.
“[There were] too many penalties in practice one, on a circuit that is relatively new and so on. You don’t want to be overzealous, I think.”
Sebastian Vettel was also fined €5,000 on Friday for driving a track marshal’s scooter back into the pit lane after his Aston Martin lost power and had to be parked at Turn 10.