Drivers have a responsibility to speak out – Piastri
By Mat Coch
Friday 17th March, 2023 - 9:34am
Oscar Piastri believes drivers have a responsibility to use their platform and profile to speak out on key issues.
The Australian is one of two rookies on the Formula 1 grid this season and is aware of the attention he now commands both through traditional and social media.
On Instagram, the 21-year-old has an audience of nearly 700,000, while on Twitter almost 300,000 people follow him.
Piastri has a responsibility
“It’s something that I think we have the responsibility in such an important position in the world now,” Piastri said when asked about his freedom of expression and ability to influence.
“F1 is such a big sport and a big business.
“I think it’s important to speak about these issues, but in the right way and in a constructive way.
“I think that it’s definitely important for everybody to be able to speak about these things.
“But being united on certain things and just making sure that they’re spoken about in the right way and that it’s constructive and not destructive is very important.”
A number of drivers have this weekend spoken about Formula 1’s presence in Saudi Arabia, a country with well-documented human rights issues.
Last year, a missile strike near the circuit thrust the sport into the headlines.
Questions were raised about whether the event should go ahead and even if F1 should return.
A year on, it’s a topic Piastri recognises but reasons he is best to focus on his primary job.
“At the moment, I’m still very focused on just purely trying to get the most out of myself on track,” he said.
“There’s important issues to be spoken about in the world of F1.
“I think coming here this weekend in particular I think there’s been a lot of reassurance that we’ll be safe.
“I’ve got a lot of trust in the FIA and Formula 1 to make sure wherever we go is safe.
“But at the moment I’m purely focused on trying to go as fast as I can.”
Freedom of speech
The ability of drivers to freely express themselves has hit the headlines locally.
Supercars drivers have been coerced into towing the party line when it comes to Gen3.
Shane van Gisbergen hinted he’d been pressured to keep Gen3 criticisms quiet.
That was reinforced by Mark Skaife who revealed he’d challenged David Reynolds over comments he’d made in a radio interview.
By contrast, the likes of Lewis Hamilton has long raised concerns about both Formula 1 and issues outside of the sport.
Sebastian Vettel was similarly outspoken on a range of issues while Fernando Alonso has rarely sheathed his criticisms.
Track action in Saudi Arabia begins this evening with opening practice at 16:30 local time (00:30 AEDT Saturday).
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