“I just feel that if we are coming to these places, we need to be raising the profile of the situation,” says Lewis Hamilton; Watch the first-ever Qatar GP live only on Sky Sports F1, with qualifying and the race each at 2pm across the weekend
Last Updated: 18/11/21 9:03pm
Lewis Hamilton says sports such as F1 are “duty bound” to make sure they raise awareness of human rights matters, as it prepares to race in Qatar for the first time this weekend.
“I do think as sports go to these places, they are duty bound to raise awareness for these issues,” said Hamilton in Thursday’s press conference on F1’s first day at the Losail circuit near Doha.
“These places need scrutiny. It needs the media to speak about these things. Equal rights is a serious issue.
“However, I am aware in this place they are trying to make steps and it can’t change overnight.”
Hamilton, who has consistently been a leading voice on societal issues, added: “I just feel that if we are coming to these places, we need to be raising the profile of the situation.”
Speaking in an interview with Sky Sports News last month after the announcement of Qatar’s first F1 deal, Stefano Domenicali, the sport’s president, said: “We are talking about sport. We are talking about a platform that has the objective of creating fun and unifying people. This is always the case.
“Sport will help to enhance the positivity and the right values on each country we are going to. The spotlight of Formula 1 is so big that you cannot hide. Therefore, it’s a sign of making sure the things that everyone at this level is promising, it will be delivered.”
Qatar has faced criticism over its human rights record, and has been accused in a recent report by Amnesty International of failing to effectively implement its own laws aimed at improving conditions for migrant workers.
Sebastian Vettel says his experience of travelling around the world as an F1 driver has shown him that some countries have ‘things to catch up on’.
Sebastian Vettel is another F1 driver who has spoken passionately about global equality and diversity issues and, asked about his feelings about F1 racing in Qatar, said: “I don’t think it’s necessarily a question for me, I think it’s a question for all of us.
“I guess we are all loving Formula 1 in one way or another. We go to many different places; some great places, some places maybe not so great, but it depends what you like.
“Some places that are very liberal, others are not, it’s probably a fair reflection of the world in general. So naturally there are places with things to catch up on and others are not.”