F1 2022 Miami Grand Prix Sebastian Vettel underwear protest, Lewis Hamilton jewellery

World Champion Sebastian Vettel’s latest strut through the Formula 1 paddock was as blunt as any outfit protest can be.

After threatening to skip the inaugural Miami Grand Prix over a bling clampdown, Lewis Hamilton removed almost all his jewellery in time to drive in practice on Saturday morning (AEST).

The decision to enforce rules on jewelry and underwear had stirred controversy in the pre-practice press conferences.

Hamilton threatened to spend the weekend seeing the sites of Miami instead while Sebastian Vettel said he thought the English driver was being “targeted”.

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The German star showed his feelings by wearing underpants over his race suit as a sign of protest.

Race director Niels Wittich wrote in his guidelines for Sunday’s race that driver jewelry and underwear should be checked, to ensure they comply with the FIA’s fire-proof safety standards.

In his race notes, Wittich wrote: “Metallic objects, such as jewellery, in contact with the skin can reduce heat transmission protection and thus may increase the risk of burn injuries in the event of a fire.” Vettel said the actions appeared to be aimed at Hamilton.

“Probably, at this stage, it’s more of a personal thing and I feel in a way targeted to Lewis,” said Vettel.

The Aston Martin driver suggested the topic was trivial.

“We spoke about underpants as well, but really is that the most exciting thing we can talk about?” he asked.

“There’s a concern for safety, obviously, if you have stuff — and if the car does catch fire it would be unpleasant.

“But, on the other hand, to some degree it’s personal freedom and we are old enough to make our choices outside the car… We should be old enough also to make our choices inside the car.”

Vettel on Friday also made a plenty of headlines with a public move to highlight the issue of climate change as the sport raced at the Miami street circuit, which features a man-made, fake marina atmosphere.

He wore a T-shirt with the message: “Miami 2060. 1st Grand Prix under water. Act now or swim later.”

The shirt also featured an image of a driver’s helmet underwater with a snorkel coming out the side of it, emphasis that Miami is particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels.

Hamilton, meanwhile, was wearing three watches, a bracelet, necklaces and a nose stud for the press conference and said he would need to “chop my ears off” to remove his earrings.

“I couldn’t get any more jewellery on,” he joked.

“We have spare drivers, so we’re ready and prepared for the weekend. There is lots to do in this city so, I’ll be good either way!” Hamilton said of the prospect of being forced out of the race.

Yet, after making his threat, he removed most of his jewellery, including the earrings, for the practice session but scored a small victory with an exemption for the nose stud.

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