Lewis Hamilton has opened up on his concerns about Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, admitting he does not “feel comfortable” racing in the country and voicing his hope for F1 to “apply pressure” to drive change. Formula 1 is heading to Saudi Arabia for the first time this weekend, for the penultimate round of a championship Hamilton hopes to snatch from Max Verstappen. Off the track, Hamilton has been striving to raise awareness of important issues in host countries.
Same-sex relationships are illegal in Saudi Arabia – as they are in Qatar, which hosted the previous race – and Hamilton will once again wear a helmet sporting the Progress Pride flag Hamilton, who said he received a warm welcome in the country, then spoke passionately about his concerns and beliefs to Sky Sports F1 – while also detailing his hope for “uncomfortable discussions”.
“This is not my home and this is not solely my responsibility to change the world, of course,” he said. “But I’ve just to tried to prepare myself in terms of the places we are going, the problems that are there. “It’s a ridiculously complex scenario of culture, religion, beliefs, this regime and rulers, because it’s so much different to the world we’ve grown up in.
“What I truly believe is that everyone should have human rights, freedom of speech, freedom of movement, and there are places where that’s not allowed. “Do I feel comfortable here? I wouldn’t say I do,” Hamilton admitted on Thursday. “But it’s not my choice to be here. The sport has taken the choice to be here.”
Speaking in the press conference, Hamilton added: “If anyone wants to take the time to read what the law is for the LGBTQ+ community, it’s pretty terrifying. There’s changes that need to be made. “For example women’s rights of being able to drive [legally] in 2018, it’s how they are policed. Some of the women are still in prison from driving many, many years ago. “So there’s a lot of changes that need to happen and I think our sport needs to do more.”