SAKHIR, Bahrain (AP) — Formula One's governing body inspected Lewis Hamilton's jewelry before the seven-time champion was cleared to practice Friday ahead of the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.
Hamilton has clashed with governing body FIA over a jewelry ban enacted last year and indicated he had piercings that cannot be removed. He received an exception for his nose stud.
Hamilton said he had to keep the stud in because of complications linked to a blood blister on his nose, which occurred because he kept having to take it out for races. In a later interview with Vanity Fair, Hamilton admitted that he exaggerated his piercings to push back at what he believed was being personally targeted by the ban.
“I mean, yeah. Because I’m the only one that has jewelry on, really," he told the magazine. "People love to have power, and to enforce power.”
The FIA did not reference his nose stud in a Friday statement but said Hamilton received a medical exemption related to "concerns about disfigurement."
"The stewards consulted the FIA medical delegate, who viewed the medical report, examined the driver and concurred with the opinion therein," the FIA said. "We have determined to take no further action as there are concerns about disfigurement with frequent attempts at removal of the device."
Last May, Hamilton protested the jewelry ban by showing up at the Miami GP wearing multiples watches and rings. He suggested he was willing to sit out races over the issue.
He kept his nose stud in at Monaco later that month after the FIA extended his exemption, but remained frustrated by the ban.
“Honestly, I feel like there’s just way too much time and energy being given to this,” Hamilton said in Monaco. “We shouldn’t have to keep on revisiting this thing every weekend. We’ve definitely got bigger fish to fry.”
Hamilton, who went winless last season for the first time in a career that started in 2007, was 10th fastest in Friday's first practice. He was eighth in the second session.
He said Mercedes remains off pace from reigning champion and preseason favorite Red Bull.
“We're a long way off. We kind of knew that a little bit in the (preseason) test,” Hamilton said. “Red Bull on the long runs were a second-a-lap faster. We've got a lot to work with. I think I've got the car to the best place I can get it, set-up wise. We'll continue to tweak bits here and there.”
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