The first-ever Miami Grand Prix was never going to be a minimalist affair. Formula 1 superstar Lewis Hamilton reminded us of this fact when he piled on the jewelry at a pre-race press conference today in Miami: a location-appropriate fashion statement, yes, but also a nod to the F1 governing body’s recent crackdown on drivers wearing jewelry while in the car, making good on a longstanding but rarely enforced rule in the world of racing.
“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 issues and causes that we need to be focused on,” Hamilton said during the conference this morning, his frustration visible in the eight heavy-duty silver rings, multiple bust-down Cartier Juste un Clou bracelets, stacks of pearl necklaces, and three multicolor IWC watches (curiously all set to different times) adorning his neck and hands.
“This is such a small thing. I’ve been in the sport for 16 years and I’ve been wearing jewelry for 16 years. In the car, I only ever have my earrings on and my nose ring, which I can’t even remove. It seems unnecessary for us to get into this spat,” he said, joking he couldn’t have put on more jewelry that day if he tried. Aside from the usual accessories, Hamilton, a longtime style maximalist, recently told the New York Post he’s “got several piercings that I really can’t take out, that not a lot of people know of,” with a laugh. “These ones on my right ear are literally welded in so I’d have to get them chopped off or something like that. So they will be staying.”
“I’m here to be an ally of the sport,” the driver added on Friday. “There’s bigger fish to fry.”
Hamilton isn’t alone in his stance, either. Fellow driver Pierre Gasly noted that he has “a religious item that I wear with me when I’m racing, which is important to me. I don’t feel comfortable not having that in the car. I do feel like it’s personal; we should have the freedom to do what we feel is right for us,” he said, per ESPN. “At the end of the day, we have the responsibility to go out there and put our lives at risk. It should be a personal choice.”
Leading up to the Miami race, race director Niels Wittich doubled down on the rule that drivers not wear jewelry while driving, per the governing body’s International Sporting Code. Hamilton, for his part, seemed at peace with the consequences. “There’s lots to do in the city anyway,” he joked. For now, at least, he needn’t worry: come afternoon, the FIA had granted Hamilton a two-race exemption from the jewelry ban.