The Saudi Motorsport Company (SMC) has asserted that it has no issues with Lewis Hamilton’s activism in the country.
Hamilton suggested on Thursday in Jeddah that he wasn’t comfortable racing in the region after other drivers expressed content.
Questionable human rights issues in the country have been highlighted by fans since the sport announced it would be racing in Saudi Arabia.
The event came under added backlash in 2022 after a missile struck an oil depot several kilometres from the circuit.
Across the last several years, Hamilton has used his F1 platform to raise awareness in areas such as diversity and equality – and the Saudi Arabian GP promoter says it has no problem with him doing so in Jeddah.
“Yes, I’m happy,” said SMC chairman Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Al Abdullah Al-Faisal. “We want everyone to speak their mind. We have nothing against anybody’s opinion.
“As we respect their opinion, we ask them as well to respect our culture. We’re not trying to force or stop Hamilton from saying what he wants to say, or wearing what he wants to wear.
“If he thinks that this is something right, and he wants to speak about it, it’s his right and we respect that.
“And the same thing, we have a culture, we have traditions, and we have laws here in Saudi Arabia.
“As we go to other countries, we respect their laws and traditions, people come to Saudi Arabia can speak their mind, but they need to know that we have our laws and our culture. So it’s a mutual respect.”
During Friday practice in Saudi Arabia, Hamilton ran a helmet featuring the pride flag that represents the LGBTQ+ community.
With same-sex relationships illegal in Saudi Arabia, Prince Khalid says that he does not wish to stop Hamilton from speaking out on matters close to him.
“He understands us, we understand him,” he said. “Nobody is trying to stop him from saying, everybody has an opinion and he needs to say his opinion.
“The people, they are the others they either accept it or they don’t accept it. We know when we bring Formula 1, we bring these events, the drivers come and everybody has his point of view, even religious views or human rights or diversity or equality.
“We know everybody has to say something, and we have no problem with that. It’s good to speak, it’s good to hear other opinions, and let them know more about us and our culture, maybe they will learn something from us, maybe we’ll learn something from them.
“We don’t want to change anybody, and we’re not expecting Lewis to change, as much as we don’t want the people to expect that we will completely change as well.
“We need to understand, live together, and respect our differences. And that’s why we are fine with this.”
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