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Hamilton Finally Yield To FIA Warning, Takes Out His Nose Stud For First Practice St British Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton has finally conceded defeat in his long-running battle with the FIA over jewellery and removed his nose piercing. The seven-time world champion, who will race in Sunday’s British Grand Prix, emerged for practice on Friday without the stud. He has agreed to a meeting next week with the governing body’s president Mohammed Ben Sulayem, who feels strongly about enforcing the regulation which bans drivers from wearing jewellery in their cars.

 

 

The Brit, who has endured a tough build-up to the weekend after being the target of racist remarks from three-time champion Nelson Piquet, finished second fastest in practice. Only Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz was quicker, giving hope that Hamilton can end his nightmare start to the season and challenge for a ninth race win at Silverstone in front of his home crowd. A truer picture will emerge during qualifying.

 

 

‘It has been a good day and I am feeling pretty decent,’ said Hamilton on Friday night. ‘It feels like a small step forward.’ Sportsmail understands talks between Hamilton and Ben Sulayem are pencilled in for next week as the two look to smooth over the issue. Though the grace period regarding jewellery expired on Saturday Hamilton retained his contentious nose stud as he arrived into the paddock on Friday morning.

 

 

The FIA are not backing down, as Ben Sulayem is keen to stick to his insistence that the previously unenforced jewellery rule is an important safety issue. If Ben Sulayem was not talked into a compromise position, Hamilton could either be have been fined or, in extremis, prevented from racing. When asked about the threat of being banned going into the weekend, Hamilton said he had ‘bigger fish to fry’.

 

 

He said during Thursday’s press-conference: ‘It’s worrying – we’ve got bigger fish to fry. We’ve really got to start focusing on more important areas. ‘I will be racing this weekend. I’m working with the FIA. The matter is not massively important, I’ll work with Mohammed and his team to take the next steps forward.’ While the prohibition of body piercings has been in place since 2004, F1’s new race director Niels Wittich brought the rule to the fore in his pre-race notes before the Australian Grand Prix.

 

 

He then addressed the subject directly with Hamilton and his peers in a two-hours drivers’ briefing. Wittich says the law is there to protect the driver by not hindering a speedy escape from their car. In a show of defiance, Hamilton has continued racing with a nose stud, and at the Monaco Grand Prix, he was given permission to wear it until this weekend’s race. Back in May, the 37-year-old said regarding the issue: ‘When they [the FIA] told me about the jewellery, they were saying safety is everything,’ the seven-time world champion said earlier this month. ‘I said, ‘Well, what’s happened for the last 16 years? I’ve had jewellery on for 16 years. So was safety not an issue back then?’ ‘I feel like it’s almost like a step backwards, if you think about the steps we are taking as a sport, and the more important causes that we need to be focused on.’

 

 

Despite taking a lenient view of jewellery in racing in the past, the FIA has enforced its International Sporting Code more strictly so far this season, clamping down on the wearing of piercings and chains. The rule prohibiting the wearing of jewellery is Article 5 of the third chapter of Appendix L of the governing body’s International Sporting Code (ISC). The FIA clause states that ‘the wearing of jewellery in the form of body piercing or metal neck chains is prohibited during the competition and may therefore be checked before the start.’

 

 

It has been an unusual hot topic during the 2022 season due to the FIA’s strict approach and Hamilton’s refusal to cave in. When it first cropped up in Melbourne, Hamilton was in a press conference with last year’s title rival Max Verstappen. When asked in the press conference how it would affect him, he said: ‘Well, I’ve got certain piercings that I really just can’t take out that not many people know of. No. I’m kidding, I’m kidding.

 

 

‘OK, I mean, it’s been the rule forever. Since I’ve been here, it’s been the rule, so there’s nothing new. I’m just going to come up with more jewellery next week.’ When reigning world champion Verstappen was asked for his thoughts on the subject, he replied: ‘Me? I will be too heavy if I wear jewellery. So it’s not possible.’I know you have a nipple-piercing man. Come on!’ quipped Lewis. Verstappen made light of Hamilton’s comment as he asked: ‘You want to see it again?’

 

 

There has been uncertainty about which items are deemed safe and unsafe in cars, including wedding rings. Haas driver Kevin Magnussen said on the weekend of the Monaco GP: ‘I’ll take a little bit of extra burn on my finger to race in my wedding ring. And if something was going to happen, something bad, I would want to wear my wedding ring. It kind of feels bad to take it off.

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