Philip Duncan, PA F1 Correspondent
Alex Albon said Formula One drivers are “concerned” about the FIA’s move to ban political statements.
F1’s governing body has updated its rules to prevent “political, religious or personal” comments being made without prior approval.
The FIA’s controversial clampdown comes after drivers – including seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton and the recently-retired Sebastian Vettel – have spoken out on issues such as racism, diversity and the environment in recent seasons.
In 2020, F1 launched the We Race as One campaign to combat inequality and increase sustainability.
But speaking at Williams’ season launch, London-born Thai Albon said: “We are all concerned. We know politics and stances are sensitive areas but we need clarity from the FIA on what they are trying to tell us.
“On a personal side, it is confusing. We are very much for the We Race as One (initiative), and it seems as though the FIA are moving away from that.
“It is clear that we need an open dialogue on what they (the FIA) are trying to do but we need to be able to speak freely to some extent.
“A lot of people look to us as spokespeople for issues around the world, and I do feel it is a responsibility for drivers to make people aware of these kind of situations.”
Albon (26) is gearing up for his fourth season in F1 and second with Williams.
The former Red Bull driver scored points on just three occasions last year as Williams propped up the constructors’ table following a disappointing campaign for the British team.
Williams will have a new team principal for the upcoming season – which starts in Bahrain on March 5th – following James Vowles’ transfer from Mercedes to replace Jost Capito.
Join us in saying a huge welcome to our new Team Principal! 🤩
We are delighted to announce that James Vowles is coming onboard to lead the team. We’re looking forward to him joining our journey from 20th Feb! 👋
— Williams Racing (@WilliamsRacing) January 13, 2023
Vowles was a key fixture in the Silver Arrows’ remarkable run of success – propelling Hamilton to six of his seven world titles – and Albon hopes some of that Mercedes magic will rub off at Williams.
“Everyone I know speaks very highly of James, Jost included,” added Albon, who will team up with rookie American Logan Sargeant this season.
“I am sure he can bring a lot to the table. We have caught up on the phone, and had dinner, and it is nice to see what he thinks, and to have that different point of view coming from a team that has had so much success.
“He is very keen and motivated to get the team to where he knows it can be. He has had a lot of experience in all areas with Mercedes so hopefully we can put that to good use.”