Hamilton issues ‘duty bound’ awareness call to F1
By Ian Parkes
Friday 3rd March, 2023 - 6:00pm
Lewis Hamilton feels F1 is “duty bound” to raise awareness of the issues taking place in the countries it visits.
Ahead of the season-opening race in Bahrain and subsequent visit to Saudi Arabia in a fortnight’s time, human rights groups have again accused F1 of being used by the regimes in place intent on sports washing their abuses and atrocities.
Hamilton, who has often used his voice to call for change, has again reiterated his position, albeit on this occasion against the backdrop of the recently attempted clampdown by the FIA to silence the drivers.
In December, motorsport’s governing body announced a change to its International Sporting Code in which drivers would no longer be allowed to make ‘political, religious, personal comments of statements’ without prior written permission.
A furore followed, with the drivers claiming their freedom of speech rights were being violated.
That forced the FIA into a recent clarification, with the drivers clear to voice their opinion via social media and in official press conferences if asked, but not during podium ceremonies or the playing of national anthems.
Hamilton demands “more needs to be done”
Asked during a press conference in the Mercedes paddock building ahead of this weekend’s grand prix whether F1 had made a difference in visiting a country like Bahrain, Hamilton said: “I can’t say whether or not I know whether it’s got worse. I’m not sure it’s got better in coming all these years.
“I know for me, in these later years, I’ve started to understand more and more of the challenges of the people here in Bahrain.
“Also, obviously, for Saudi. It was my first time there last year, and, of course, I read about some of the troubles there.
“I’ve always felt that we have a responsibility, and if a sport is going to go to these countries, we are duty bound to raise awareness and try to leave having had a positive impact on these places.
“That view has always been shared within the sport, whether it’s through the teams or people in high-power positions.
“But more needs to be done, without a doubt. Whether it will happen, time will tell.”
Hamilton vows to continue diversity and inclusivity fight
Hamilton was additionally critical of the FIA for attempting to silence the drivers from speaking out on difficult topics.
It was only due to the universal condemnation from the drivers that the FIA was forced to row back on its stance.
“When you read that in the news, 100 percent it tells me we’re going in the wrong direction,” added Hamilton.
“It’s counter to what we’ve been taught, what I’ve been trying to do with the team, and what I’ve been trying to do in conversations with stakeholders within our sport.
“But I expect pushback. There are still individuals that don’t understand or believe in the importance of having an inclusive environment.
“And I think my job, and our job, is to continue to highlight that, the positives of what that can have, and the importance of it.
“I might sound like a broken record, but that’s what I’m going to keep on doing and the fight I’m going to keep on having, so we will continue to work together to go in the right direction.”
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