Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton admits he’s not entirely comfortable racing in Saudi Arabia this weekend due to its human rights issues that have been in the recent spotlight.
Formula 1 is visiting Saudi Arabia for the first time in its history after the Gulf nation secured a long-term agreement with the sport.
Hamilton, who has often spoken in support of the Black and LGBTQ+ community, asserts that the sport has a duty to raise awareness over human rights issues in certain countries it strikes deals with.
However, the seven-time world champion states he’s not completely comfortable competing in Saudi Arabia this weekend.
“As I said at the last race [in Qatar], I felt that the sport and we are duty-bound to try to help raise awareness for certain issues that we’ve seen, particularly human rights in these countries that we’re going to,” Hamilton said.
“With the utmost respect to everyone that’s here, so far I’ve had a warm welcome from everyone on the ground.
“[But] I can’t pretend to ever to be the most knowledgeable or have the deepest understanding of someone who has grown up in the community here that is heavily affected by certain rules and the regime.
“Do I feel comfortable here? I wouldn’t say I do. But it’s not my choice to be here, the sport has taken the choice to be here. Whether it’s right or wrong, whilst we’re here again, I feel it’s important that we do try to raise awareness.”
Hamilton wore a helmet supporting the LGBTQ+ community last time out in Qatar, which he will continue to don in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi.
“If anyone wants to take the time to read what the law is for the LGBTQ+ community, it’s pretty terrifying,” Hamilton added. “There’s changes that need to be made.
“Those changes, for example, women’s rights of being able to drive in 2018, is how they’re policed. Are they really in effect? Why are some of the women still in prison for driving many, many years ago?
“There’s a lot of change that needs to happen and I think our sport needs to do more.”