Formula 1 2021: Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton is unapologetic when it comes to raising his voice against social and human rights issues. Ahead of the season opener Bahrain GP, he was no different. Speaking at the pre-race press conference, Hamilton fired at the F1’s chief executive, Stefano Domenicali, saying that Formula 1 could no longer ignore human rights abuses linked to Bahrain GP or any Grand Prix venues.
The reigning drivers’ world champion from Mercedes said that he spent the past few months educating himself on the human rights issues and abuses associated with the Bahrain GP and spoke to various stakeholders.
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“There are issues all around the world but I do not think we should be going to these countries and just ignoring what is happening in those places, arriving, having a great time and then leaving,” Lewis Hamilton said ahead of Formula 1 2021.
“Coming here all these years I was not aware of all of the details of the human rights issues. I have spent time speaking to legal human rights experts, to human rights organisations like Amnesty. I have been to see the UK ambassador here in Bahrain and spoken to Bahraini officials also. At the moment the steps I have taken have been private and I think that is the right way to go out about it but I am definitely committed to helping in any way I can,” he added.
His remarks came after Domenicali rejected calls last Friday to launch an independent probe into the alleged human rights abuses at the Bahrain International Circuit. In a letter, 61 British MPs, 24 human rights groups, Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), besides Hamilton sent a letter to the Italian to launch an inquiry.
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Formula 1 2021: However, the Formula 1 chief was undeterred. “It is important to make clear that Formula 1 is not a cross-border investigatory organization. We are a sports rightsholder that has the important job of promoting our sport across the world in line with the policies I have set out. Unlike governments and other bodies we are not able to undertake the actions you request, and it would not be appropriate for us to pretend we can,” Domenicali said in response to the letter as per The Guardian.
“I’m not always too bothered about upsetting someone if it’s gonna make a difference” – Lewis Hamilton pic.twitter.com/55EvEgDlMv
— iesh 🍒 (@brocedes) March 18, 2021
Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, BIRD’s Director Advocacy, rejected Domenicali’s response, saying it was not acceptable that F1 does not have the resources to launch a probe. “We simply do not accept that a multimillion-pound business doesn’t have the resources or capacity to establish such an inquiry. Formula One should urgently review their position,” he said.
However, the Bahraini government fired back, saying that it had “internationally recognised human rights safeguards.”
As for Hamilton, he has been a vocal advocate for social issues. Last season, he publicly supported the Black Lives Matter movement. He also wore a T-shirt supporting the movement at the podium. The 36-year-old will be looking to continue his and Mercedes’ dominance and win a record-breaking 8th Drivers’ World Championship.