Lewis Hamilton not ready to comment on Saudi Arabian GP

© Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

After Formula 1 announced that Saudi Arabia will host a grand prix in 2021, Amnesty International asked Lewis Hamilton to speak out on the country’s human rights violations.

“It would be incredibly important if Lewis could speak out,” Amnesty International UK head of campaigns Felix Jakens said via PA news agency.

“If the sport’s most high-profile driver is willing to speak out and say, ‘Actually this is a country that has an appalling human rights record’, that takes the sheen off Saudi Arabia’s ability to ‘sportswash’ its image.

“However the onus is not just on the star drivers but the whole industry to be aware of what is happening in Saudi Arabia.”

Hamilton responded by saying he doesn’t know enough about the situation to be ready to speak out just yet.

“I have some friends that go there and tell me it’s a stunning place,” said the Briton.

“But I think it’s important that I before I really comment, I know exactly what the issue is.

“Nelson Mandela many years ago said sport has the power to change the world for the better. We have already seen the positive shifts that we as a sport this year have committed to and started to push in the direction of supporting human rights and equality and inclusivity.

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“The current fact is we go to all these countries, and while it is a great event, we don’t leave a long lasting positive effect on those places.

“The question is, can we? Can we be a part of bringing attention to certain issues and push them to change,” asked the six-time F1 champion.

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff also gave his comments on Saudi Arabia’s human rights issues. He visited the county last year when Formula E held a race in the city of Diriyah.

“As a visitor, you never know how things are going,” said the Austrian.

“But what I saw for myself, and that’s all I can say about it, was a great event without segregation, where men and women enjoyed the sporting event.

“We have to start somewhere. What I have seen is that it started somewhere and I believe that we have to do everything we can to make the world a better place.

“We saw that there was a positive discussion around F1 because we are racing all over the world,” concluded Wolff.

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