Saudi Sports Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal says he told Lewis Hamilton “openly and frankly” that he can talk with him about the issues he has with the country.
In 2021 and 2022 Lewis Hamilton stated he feels uneasy about racing in Saudi Arabia, because of the country’s poor human rights track record.
Saudi’s minister of sport, His Royal Highness Prince Abdulaziz Bin Turki Al-Faisal, who is a racing driver in his own right, says he has offered Lewis to speak with him about his concerns.
“I saw the comments that Lewis had, and that he had issues with some of the things in Saudi Arabia,” Prince Abdulaziz told Motorsport.com.
“I told him openly and frankly that you can speak to me. Let’s sit down, discuss what are your issues, and understand where we are.
“Because a lot of these things, you read a lot about Saudi Arabia but you don’t see what are the details.”
Prince Abdulaziz said his Saudi Arabia is not dismissing any concerns outsiders have about the country.
“We could have said we don’t want a headache, let the international community condemn us as much as they like and have controversy but no one interferes. But we didn’t.
“We’re here for an open discussion and that’s what I said, with the FIA and F1. We should sit together and understand the situation, because we’re here together.
“That is why I openly spoke to the drivers, and spoke to Lewis directly, saying that if you want to discuss these issues, you’re more than welcome to discuss it with me, because he was saying that he couldn’t find anyone to discuss it with.
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“So I’m ready to sit with him. I think a lot of these issues ignite because there is no communication and there is no understanding of what’s happening.
“It’s a small world today in terms of communication, but we really live in different parts of the world with different cultures and different mindsets. We’re open to discussion, we’re open to all of that and we’re happy to do so.”
Prince Abdulaziz also reveals that he spoke to Sebastian Vettel, after the German driver hosted a karting day for Saudi women.
“I did speak to Seb last year, and I told him, ‘listen, thank you for doing that’. For you to understand more, don’t talk to us, talk to the people. And definitely, that’s the message we give to everyone.
“I’m not saying that we’re perfect. I’m not saying that we’re the best in the world. We have our issues, yes. But we are solving them, and we’re moving forward with the pace that we can move on with.
“We sometimes move very quickly, but sometimes some things change a lot slower. These are very complicated issues that we need to all take care about.
“And we’re doing it for us, we’re doing it because we believe that we need to prosper in this area. And if we do that, then everyone else really rises up towards where we are.
“It’s our duty to make sure that the future is prosperous for our children, and everyone who wants to live in the kingdom and the area,” Prince Abdulaziz concluded.