Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Sochi Autodrom, 2020

As Saudi Arabia joins 2021 calendar, Hamilton urges F1 not to ignore human rights

2020 F1 season

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Last weekend, in his moment of triumph after clinching his seventh Formula 1 world championship, Lewis Hamilton left no one in doubt that leading the calls for greater diversity in the sport means every bit as much to him as his record-equalling success.

“That’s what’s been a real drive for me this year,” Hamilton told Sky on Sunday in Istanbul. “And you’re seeing that coming out in my driving because I have now another fire burning.

“Whilst I’ve got this championship there’s still another big win out there, but it’s going to take all of us coming together.”

As Hamilton indicated, he hasn’t been alone in this fight. All drivers have participated in the pre-race anti-racism observances which began this year and many have joined Hamilton in ‘taking a knee’.

But by dint of his position of seniority in sport, being by far its most popular driver and – of course – the first and only black world champion, Hamilton has played a unique, leading role in pushing F1 and the FIA to respond to the issues raised by the Black Lives Matter movement.

Although he is yet to sign a contract for the 2021 F1 season, it is seemingly a formality. Hamilton has made it clear he intends to continue combining his racing with agitating for change. And it seems he has further goals in mind.

While Hamilton has already spoken out on environmental issues as well as racial ones, the phrase “human rights” figured more prominently in his words last weekend. While Hamilton did not specifically mention F1’s newest race, it may be no coincidence that he made these comments following confirmation the first Saudi Arabian Grand Prix will be held next year.

Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Jeddah will join the 2021 F1 calendar
“When we’ve seen the Black Lives Matter movement, that really gave me so much drive, so much focus that we had to utilise it, realise that we’ve got to really use this platform that we have, which is amazing,” Hamilton said.

“There’s a lot of organisations in the world that turn a blind eye to a lot of stuff that’s happening and they’ll use the excuse that it’s ‘political’. Human rights is not a political thing. Human rights should be equal for everyone and we’re going to all these countries where that is an issue.”

Saudi Arabia will not be the first country Formula 1 has visited which has faced criticism over its human rights record. F1 has raced in China, Bahrain and Russia over similar objections.

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Some have urged the sport to boycott these countries. Hamilton, however, sees racing in such places as an opportunity to raise and address the concerns many have about them.

‘I’ve been to races in Saudi Arabia: Here’s why I don’t oppose its grand prix’
“We don’t have to shut those areas off,” he said. “We have to figure out how we can engage more, how we can really utilise this platform to encourage and push for change.”

Before the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix was announced, human rights campaigners Amnesty International called on F1 drivers to “brief themselves on the dire human rights situation in the country and be prepared to speak out” on the subject, such as the unequal treatment of women, who were only given the right to drive two years ago.

“The bitter irony over a Saudi Grand Prix is that the very people who fought for the rights of Saudi women to be able to drive are now themselves languishing in jail,” said Amnesty’s UK head of campaigns Felix Jakens. “Brave people like Loujain al-Hathloul and Nassima al-Sada.

“Presuming this race now goes ahead, Formula 1 should insist that all contracts contain stringent labour standards across all supply chains, and that all race events are open to everyone without discrimination.”

No doubt Amnesty will have been encouraged by Hamilton’s recent comments. But how will F1 and the Jeddah race promoters handle criticism of the event?

Speaking to media including RaceFans last weekend the president of Saudi Arabia’s motorsport federation prince Khalid Bin Sultan Al Faisal confirmed human rights have featured in their discussions with Formula 1.

“I know this is a thing that a lot of people talk about Saudi Arabia,” he said. “We are not like the other countries. We know that we are different, we have our culture, there are things that people can do in other places that they can’t do here.

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“But these things, we respect our differences and we are opening our country to anyone. Any people can come – everybody can, if you’re a man or woman, there’s no segregation. So we know we’re different, but we respect our differences and it’s something that we take seriously.

Women racers joined Formula E’s Saudi Arabian debut
“I live in a country and I have a family so humanity is very important for us. Maybe we disagree in a couple of things and how we do things but in the end, it’s very important for us.”

Formula E and the Dakar Rally have already held rounds in Saudi Arabia. “We didn’t have any problems with all the events,” continued prince Khalid. “We did a lot of international events, so there was no issue.

“The people that they came here, they lived freely. They do whatever they want to do. We know that we’re a very conservative country culture-wise but everybody came here and didn’t feel like he’s not welcomed.”

Events like F1 “bring people together and unites them” said prince Khalid. “So that’s why hosting these events is very important and hopefully you can come and see how the people live in Saudi Arabia and you can come and speak with them freely and get their impressions.”

Although Formula 1 will not be the first motorsport to race in Saudi Arabia, it will be by far the most well-known. That will inevitably bring all aspects of the country, positive or negative, to even greater attention.

It’s clearly a subject F1 is sensitive to. This week the series began polling fans on their “initial feelings towards the introduction of a race in Saudi Arabia”. It’s clear from early responses to the race on social media that many already have firm views on the subject and share the concerns raised by Amnesty.

Those hoping F1 will not, in Hamilton’s words, “turn a blind eye” to human rights in Saudi Arabia will draw encouragement from the sport’s most influential driver increasingly finding his voice on the subject.

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Keith Collantine
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93 comments on “As Saudi Arabia joins 2021 calendar, Hamilton urges F1 not to ignore human rights”

  1. Is Lewis drunk on politics? Should he drop racing and find himself a nice safe seat to stand in at the next election?

    1. He’s a 7 time world champion, the most successful F1 driver of all time, with a massive platform for speaking out against human rights abuses, which he is doing. How on earth have you found a way to criticise him?

        1. +7! He now has the “mic” … let him use it for goodliness.

      1. Finally WELL said.

        Send Lewis to the USA after he straightens out SA.
        We’ve got a dirty rat stuck in the WhiteHouse and nobody knows how to get rid of the Rats.
        Please send Sir Lewis Hamilton overseas to finally put an end to America’s Rat problem. Such a humanitarian. Save us Lewis as the Formula One race is coming to SA.

    2. And another one named Rott who should just sit down.

      1. Alright guys, one month later and I still haven’t seen him for a long time. I’ll keep everyone updated if I see him.

    3. Will someone tell Lewis about how the UK and most other Western countries abuse human rights on a daily basis, probably even more than Saudi Arabia? I won’t hold my breath…

      1. As a UN Ambassador for over 10 years, plus the Invictus First Ambassador, Education Africa patron, appointment within UNGG4, involvement in Children in Need, UNICEF; and a funder of young carers, childrens cancer hospice, homeless shelters, etc. he is probably better placed to understand the issues and what he can do about them than most on here. Including you I suspect.
        In addition he spends the bulk of his giving and other resources on the protection and advancement of under-privileged/at risk children across the world. So in that regard he is also probably better placed than most on which Western countries abuse those in our society most at risk.
        But I understand this is of little interest to the myriad of posters on here who wont let any human abuse; no matter how horrific, get in the way of them using that as an excuse to make snide comments about Hamilton.

        1. Well said, Ian!

          Lewis is be admired for speaking up on basic human rights issues.

          1. Lewis is not the messiah that you crave. It is easy to speak when your “bag” is not affected. Let him speak up for the oppressed Shia in Saudi Arabia, justice for Khashoggi and the Chinese Uyghurs. Maybe then I will take him seriously. If he was serious about being green surely he should not be racing.

        2. I’m afraid you’re mistaken, Ian. Overall I like Lewis and I’m happy for his success (apart from being a bit bored of the current dominance). And I’m glad he uses some of his money to support worthy causes. But the fact that he talks about human rights when F1 goes to Saudi Arabia while he says nothing when F1 goes to, say, the UK; strongly suggests that he’s being used to whitewash the horrible crimes committed on a daily basis by the UK and other Western countries. Mind you, I don’t blame him, I’m sure he’s completely unaware of how he’s helping to whitewash Western atrocities. But it doesn’t sit well with me nevertheless and if all his words are going to accomplish is whitewashing Western crimes (which, ironically enough, essentially means white crimes), I’d rather he shut up and focused on what he knows about, i. e., racing.

      2. That’s strange, I didn’t know that western countries have mass public executions, oppress women and religious minorities, chop people up, disallow free speech, use torture on dissidents and punish people who have sex outside marriage or who are homosexuals.

        Equating western countries to Saudi Arabia is ridiculous. You should be embarrassed, though I doubt you’re that self-aware. You’re not the crown prince, are you?

      3. Hahaha, did you really just compare the UK and Saudi Arabia on human rights standards??

        Its not the dark ages anymore dude – we aren’t still hanging people for being traitors to the crown or chopping people’s hands off for stealing a bit of bread. The Saudi’s though…

    4. His off-track activities have clearly affected his driving. Wait, what?…

    5. Ive actually stopped watching F1 due to Hamilton’s politicising. I just want to watch good racing.

      1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
        22nd November 2020, 19:02

        Then just watch the races and stop reading about the politics! You do have a choice.

  2. I am really glad that Hamilton makes it clear he is “doing the homework” on Saudi Arabia.

    That “yeah our culture” BS from the race promotor, yeah, right. I fear that the “human rights were part of our discussion” were more about “how do we react to stonewall when inevitably we get asked about this“.

    Would really be great if F1 and their drivers really did make some kind of change in the country. If they insisted on real consessions (FE did do a bit) tied in to going there. But I won’t be at all surprised when the race comes and we’ll just be speculating about whether Hamilton (or any other driver) would risk a message on a T-Shirt or cap as “peak human rights mention” and having the Sky team reassuring us how the country has done a great job of making things safe for everyone an making progress on social issues, bla bla.

    1. But F1 drivers and teams are already doing this race after race nation after nation. When a race comes to town each nation benefits from the words of these drivers and their word is heard. Like coming to America with 330 million people.
      The drivers words impact small numbers who then spread the word via normal conversation. That’s how the message gets heard. One voice to ten to one hundred. On and on. So no single driver can make all hear his words. But a message starts with a single voice. Change seems so slow today. But the voices of the drivers are heard by many in the nations they visit. All normal stuff. But how effective is it in the end. Many need the help through words of wisdom. I think drivers are heard but does it change anything. Well that all depends on the rainfal doesn’t it?

  3. And how is Russia in the same list as Saudi Arabia, China and Bahrain? Maybe it should be in the same list as the US, Brazil or the UK, given that similar bad things happen in all of them. Hypocritical stereotypes are the main problem. It’s a disgrace to race in SA and it is welcome that Hamilton speaks about it. Of course the biggest Saudi ally and the owners of the sport share their nationality, but that’s ok.

  4. America should be on that list of human right violators too.

    1. Get real. The US has an awful lot to answer for but they don’t execute people in the street for sorcery. Homosexualuty isn’t illegal. Women are treated equally under the law.

      They get the basics of human freedoms. Saudi Arabia doesn’t.

      1. The US supply Saudi Arabia with weapons and training, used for a genocide in Yemen. Without US support the Saudi regime would have fallen apart long ago.

        The biggest human rights violation in the middle east has been the millions of civilians dead in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria by US bombs in the past two decades.

      2. Agent Orange, comfort women during Korean conflict, highway of death, Haditha killings, etc… list is very long for US and its war crimes.
        Brazillian president openly calling for Genocide of tribals during elections and no one speaks about since he is Italian Christian.
        Lets not even start with UK who glorify genocidal pig Churchill who is just was ad worse as Hitler and their history of war crimes with US and before that during colonial era will be enough to fill libraries.

        1. I think you are swerving way off topic, and to bring historical actions of a country into it is just wrong.

          Should we ban Italy because of Roman gladiator fights, Mexico because the Aztecs were bad, or Russia because of Stalin.

          No country is perfect, but you can only judge them on what they are doing now. The UK, USA, Brazil etc have done bad things, but the people do have equality (at least on paper) and legal systems to protect them.

          Saudi Arabia has laws designed to persecute and punish, and a judiciary that allows torture and murder as tools of state. This is happening today, not last century or 100 years ago, and shouldn’t be excused just because the accuser doesn’t live in a fairy tale utopia.

          1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
            22nd November 2020, 19:32

            @tambeau You have a point but politics is a sticky and messy subject. For example the recent actions of the USA in Libya, Syria and Central and Southern America are no less a human rights violation not to mention the sanctions in Iran and Venezuela are preventing medical supplies against international law. In addition, a completely insane prison industry incentivising incarceration for profit giving the highest per capita incarceration numbers in the world, civil asset forfeiture and arrest targets a la Blair NHS targets and you have a country with a sorry track record. CIA torture individuals just not on US soil and to this day facilitate drug running from Central America as they play power games with “their” territories. After nearly 20 years of co- governing, the poppy fields in Afghanistan are still there and are a major source of opioids at the same time as the US has an opioid addiction crisis. I could go on. An example from the UK. The shared military base in Diago Garcia under the flag of the US (was part of the British Empire) was created by evicting the indigenous population in a deal with the US. To this day they are petitioning to be allowed back to their homeland.
            My point is, once you get deep into this you realise there are violations by all nations all the time. The British spin is to focus on those who commit human rights violations against their own populations while supressing info on what we are doing to others.
            I’ll end with this because it’s far too big a subject and those sniping in the corners really don’t do the work to truly understand. Trends matter. PR matters. Public pressure can change reality. I predict Lewis will only become more vocal and more powerful in this regard as he learns more (He’s not an intellectual bookworm, this is new territory to him). Once famous people with large followings start down this road there are tiny victories. Those turn into trickles, then floods. Then when the “baddies” are reformed, the microscope turns on the “goodies.”
            The fact that an F1 driver is speaking out at all about anything is remarkable. The fact that a multinational like Merc are backing him is remarkable. Senna was the last driver to engage with politics but in his home country about the wealth gap.
            If you want a better world support Lewis in his actions. If you don’t know about various problems both West, East, North and South then do some research. If you don’t care, sit down and shut up, it’s not your fight. Just watch the racing and spare the rest of us your opinions.
            (Not directed at @tambeau)

          2. Dave (@davewillisporter)
            22nd November 2020, 19:39

            @tambeau Forgot to add, the US and UK government are the biggest supporters both politically and financially of Saudi Arabia. At the very least we are enablers.

        2. I say that ALL wars have ” … war crimes”. “The victors write the history.” – Winston El Cerdo

      3. GEORGE FLOYD know the name?

        The US police force are used to execute people in the streets of America for clarity sake whenever their authority is challenged.
        The mistake that was made here was failing to realize how Black Americans would rise to that challenge and Black Lives Matter began.
        The planet began to catch on fire here in the US where often the wrong law breaker gets caught.
        Equal Rights Issues happen too often and it happens all over. Let’s just race and hope change starts sprouting.

        1. That’s a lie. Floyd died due to a lethal dose of Fentanyl in his body, that is the official cause of death. The police were wrong but hey DO NOT kill “whenever their authority is challenged”.

          Lots of ignorant leftists here at RF anymore.

          1. Geez you must be some kind of expert. How is it possible that you are the smartest guy ever. Did you know that you and Your knowledge of George Floyd’s facts is being kept from hundreds of millions of Americans why? Just like Michael Jackson I guess. The cops are always right. That’s why they stood on his neck for 8minutes and 54seconds? My my.

          2. Dave (@davewillisporter)
            22nd November 2020, 20:06

            @jblank If you look back at the historical role of the US police, and the underlying intention of the force as a controlling power after African Americans were freed from slave hood and track US police actions through the early 1900s, Jim Crow and the Civil Rights movement, their close association with the KKK in the South and their majority allegiance to Trump under the “law and order” banner in modern day you will discover a force that seeks to supress and control certain sects of the population while allying with another sect of the population.
            This is systemic and needs to be analysed as such. Overview perspective. If you want to understand, ask why crime exists, what are the motivating and contributing factors. Why for example are there ghettos? Could it be that the laws in the 40s to 60s for zoning were “this is a white only zone, this is for Blacks” Why go heavy in black areas and tread lightly in white areas. Why for example was a white guy open carrying an assault rifle in Portland merely asked about the situation ahead by a (by UK standards) military police force in armoured APCs yet unarmed black men are deemed as a clear threat to life?
            I don’t consider myself as a “leftist”. I am an analyst. I observe behaviour and draw conclusions. I have observed and drawn conclusions. There’s a great line in a movie called Blood diamond. “TIA. This is Africa.” Well TIA, This is America. Try and understand as apposed to defending some political allegiance you have chosen.

        2. @H67 Or I read the autopsy report. I’d recommend you focus on gathering facts and less on trying to be sarcastic. https://www.hennepin.us/-/media/hennepinus/residents/public-safety/documents/floyd-autopsy-6-3-20.pdf

          1. Why don’t you have a read of https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/voices/george-floyds-autopsy-and-the-structural-gaslighting-of-america/ while you’re conducting your in-depth inquiries in order to call people out for lying on the internet.

  5. This is a good article and I think Lewis is doing precisely the right thing. Hopefully he will be receiving some more vocal support from some of the other high profile drivers. I have not heard much from anyone else.

    I imagine some in the world of F1 do see the sport as being a force for change in countries like Saudi. Let’s not pretend though this is the reason they are going to Saudi. It’s mainly about money and it seems likely that they are paying Liberty a very large hosting fee and we know they are providing a lucrative ongoing sponsorship deal as well.

    Then this issue is not about the way people are treated when they actually travel to Saudi. It’s about the way people who live there are treated and the well documented fact that forces in Saudi export murder and terrorism.

    I took part in the F1 fan voice poll yesterday. At that time 63% of respondents had either a negative or very negative view of the idea of racing there. Only 19% saw it as positive or very positive.

    It’s a bad decision and F1 should not be going there. I won’t be watching any of it.

    1. You can change “forces” into, the family that named the country.

  6. While Hamilton did not specifically mention F1’s newest race, it may be no coincidence that he made these comments following confirmation the first Saudi Arabian Grand Prix will be held next year.

    This is not journalism. Why you guys have no shame putting your made up words on Lewis mouth?

    1. Sadly I have to agree. Hasn’t he been talking about basic human rights all year even before the Saudi announcement? And even if he did talk about it more last weekend, might that be because he just took 7 world titles? Starting to get a bit disappointing some of these articles, sorry.

    2. @ruliemaulana It’s not much of a stretch to see the connection, and honestly I don’t see how they could have worded that statement to make it any more clear that this the journalist’s interpretation and not something that Hamilton specifically said himself. That’s not putting words in someone’s mouth, it’s making a connection between two events that “may” be related.

    3. @ruliemaulana It’s speculative and indicates as much. I don’t see the problem in suggesting this connection, the same thought occurred to me, Hamilton emphasized ‘human rights’ after Saudi Arabia was confirmed.

    4. @keithedin @david-br @john-h

      After Saudi GP confirm the media starting to speculate “What if Lewis say something about Saudi”, then they started to write op-ed about “Lewis should say something about Saudi”, after that they publish comment from other motorsport figure saying “For Lewis to said something about Saudi is wrong” and now they make connection themselves that “don’t ignore human right” must be related to Saudi GP. It’s all happen when not a single ‘Saudi’ came out of Lewis mouth ever.

      I’ve been banned from posting against Lewis view so many times here. But this coordinated effort to put Lewis in a place that he’s not responsible of is unfair.

      1. @ruliemaulana As I said, it’s speculative, not putting words in his mouth. But you’re right, having emphasized BLM and human rights far more this year, it’s inevitable Hamilton will be asked about Saudi Arabia now it’s on the calendar. I don’t see how he can avoid the issue, especially next year when the race happens. He may not want to avoid it. Let’s see.

        1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
          22nd November 2020, 20:24

          @david-br Lewis was asked about Saudi and stated he wasn’t up to speed on his knowledge of the situation. This is a common thread with Lewis as he’s not particularly well informed politically. He’ll get better as he gets deeper into it. If you want to really know if Lewis has the courage of his convictions, pay attention to what he does in Austin next year. I suspect he’ll be booed by the crowd if he decides to make a statement. I hope I’m wrong but he will have to bear that and push back. I agree, I don’t see him backing off this and I am glad. Will be interesting to see how he handles the dicey politics of the US. (Saudi are going to pander like hell to ingratiate themselves, don’t see a prob there. Texas doesn’t pander and although the cities are progressive, petrol heads tend not to be.)

  7. Why are we even talking politics in an F1 forum? We are battered daily with political comment from every direction in every section of the global media. Surely we can ban it from motorsport. Is that too much to ask?

    1. Kenji – Yes. Yes it is too much to ask. International sport and politics are inextricably linked and always will be. If you don’t want to be involved in those discussions, you can avoid clicking and commenting on articles that broach political issues. But it’s important and relevant to the future of F1, so those articles will had should continue to exist whether you like it or not.

      1. If anything should not be linked it is international sport and politics!

        I like the driver Lewis but wish he would put a sock in it as it spoils one of the few non political things we’ve got going on as civilians. Retire and speak up afterwards. He is not credible anyway as long as he participates in a sport that pollutes the world to this extent, with just their travel.
        I have found myself this year tuning in to F1 at around 5min pas the hour just to be sure I miss all this political crap.

    2. Because leftists cannot stand to not have politics infest everything. This site should be about what is on the track or has to do with being on the track, not Hamilton’s daily crusade against whatever he is supporting this week. What he thinks about KSA is irrelevant and he is free to not participate in races there, if he so chooses. I would prefer if he just retired and went on his SJW crusades so that I could stop hearing about what he thinks.

      1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
        22nd November 2020, 20:44

        @jblank Again (that’s if RF choose to publish my response to you) Your problem seems to be opinions that disagree with your political world view. You keep saying “leftists”. That’s always a marker to indicate you don’t want to engage with another point of view. I suspect if Lewis stood up for anti immigration policies you’d be all for it and re-tweeting it like mad. I have researched the subject Lewis has chosen extensively. Ask me any question you like. I’ll be happy to share my understanding. What I would like to know is why a person who has achieved as much as he has in a very homogenised sport cannot point out its problems as a leader and a figurehead. What is it about the current trend in F1 adopted by the whole fraternity that you disagree with?
        Answer honestly and we can have a conversation.

    3. Hence why I will never bring any political discussion in here.

    4. You read the link, clicked the title, scrolled to the comments, posted…

  8. Why just not to sue the sheikhs, Lewis, like you did with watch makers?

    1. And here we see the problem with these two articles that don’t reflect the truth.

  9. We all know Hamilton won’t boycott the Saudi race or speak out against Saudi atrocities.

    1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
      22nd November 2020, 21:44

      I’d like to know what comparative standard you are measuring Lewis from? Previous drivers? Human rights advocates in other sports? Political world leaders? Political advocates? Tell me how Lewis is the same as any other driver? Tell me how those from the past spoke out against certain events and norms but continued to participate? Who are you comparing him too in F1? Who are you comparing him to in sports in general? I’d like to know the standard of judgment. What’s your metric?
      No, he won’t boycott because he has to perform for his team. No he won’t avoid commenting because he has chosen his legacy. He will speak.
      Who else in the history of F1 has?
      What standard are you judging him on?

  10. In the end, all it is,is just words.
    Just like Ferrari’s annual threat of leaving because they are unhappy with something.
    We had an entire season of a pre Race “End Racism” campain (and a bit of equality for all). I’m not sure how it is in other countries but here in the US, all of the Police brutality and racism issues were completely drowned out by Covid and the election.
    My point here; Action is needed, not words.
    What action? Well… if you want to make headlines and in the same moment create a spotlight on those countries that you have an issue with, dont go there and actively protest and capain against what is wrong. Pay or fundraise for advertising at the race to show you object towards certain things the country is doing.
    I remember Tim Tebow and his mom’s anti abortion commercial during the Superbowl.
    Another, don’t go to places even if that means you get penalised.
    Worst thing is speak out against all of this and still financially gain by going to those places, Just like F1 is doing right now.

    1. @us-brian I totally agree, the only thing that would work is a boycott.

      Isn’t it very strange that all the drivers, teams, journalists, TV stations, etc that participate in Rallying and Formula E in Saudi Arabia, seem to support the government. Or at the very least refuse to criticise them in any meaningful way, and just toe the party line.

      I seem to remember that Apartheid in South Africa had similar supporters, who achieved nothing towards change. It was international sanctions and boycotts that forced the spotlight on the government and meant they were eventually held accountable.

      1. I dimly remembering the sporting boycott of South Africa now, on reflection it was quite effective in putting the spotlight on the regime and pushing our political actors to disavow any measure of support. Ironically, what I remember most was the brightness of the spotlight and the volume of boos when (sticky wicket) picket-line breaking tours were organised – so thanks be to the money grubbing enablers that chose to be rebel tourists.
        So as far as the other SA is concerned, they have to be in before they can be excluded.

    2. It is all words.

      It’s okay to race in a country where you are disapprove of their values, as long as you start a conversation.

      And the Saudis are happy to converse, because they will explain how happy they are.

  11. Another article about the Saudi Arabian GP? You all know it won’t last more than one year. Just look at Valencia Street Circuit: ditched after 4 years.

    1. Spain didn’t have the money or political will to fund it.

      This is cheap advertising for Saudi Arabia, the millions or printed words, photos, hours of news coverage, and discussions like this, would cost a fortune. Not just the 100’s of millions they are paying to F1.

      No matter how boring the racing, it will become a permanent fixture. Does anybody look forward to Bahrain or Abu Dhabi ?? Watching paint dry is more exciting, but oil money can buy a lot of whitewash.

      1. I predict that everyone will be concerned about the Saudi Arabian GP during that weekend. Maybe Saudi Arabian GP might last for 2 years or less?

  12. He has as point that engaging Saudi-Arabia will force focus on their issues even if it’s all symbolic, similarly to the black lives thing has forced Hamilton to engage in other political issues.

  13. The right to remain silenced, and the freedom to bare arms?

  14. The biggest stand any driver or team could make is to refuse to race in Saudi Arabia.

    The fall out would be huge, the Saudi government would be constantly asked about it, even by non-racing media. It would be headline news in almost every country, and very embarrassing for the Saudis.

    But, of course it would cost the driver or team money, and the wrath of the FIA and their lawyers. In the end, with a battle between principles and money, we know who will win.

    1. @tambeau They all raced in Bahrain after the brutal crushing of peaceful protests in 2011, so I wouldn’t hold out too much hope.

      1. You mean the “peaceful protests” that tried to overthrow the government? I watch the sport for racing, I don’t give a squat where they race. If people want to be miserable because they are in a country they don’t like, don’t watch it.

        1. @jblank and why shouldn’t the people of Bahrain want to overthrow a totalitarian regime that routinely employs torture against its citizens, would arrest and imprison you indefinitely for the statements you make and actively conspired to foment sectarian violence against its own citizens?

          Let’s put it bluntly – do you actively support a regime that has actively conspired to terrorise its own citizens? Do you look upon Bahrain as a role model for your own leaders and consider what they are doing to be right?

          1. You misunderstand my criticism. I took umbrage with the characterization of the protests as peaceful, not with their motive. Still, it has nothing to do with racing.

        2. Dave (@davewillisporter)
          22nd November 2020, 21:52

          @jblank You sure seem to be extremely triggered for someone who just comes here just for the racing. Maybe you should set an RC car comp up in your local area so you can just enjoy the racing while the rest of us figure this problem out. Take a chill pill and check in with us in a year or two.

  15. There are two issues I think. Human rights abuses occur in – or are perpetrated by – virtually every country, albeit on different scales. I agree with Hamilton and others discussing the topic that holding international sports can help focus attention, add pressure and maybe force some changes for the better. It keeps communication channels open and ideas are swapped. That’s important. However, the other issue, for me, is when a portion of a population – national or international – is barred from attending or participating in the sports event in question. Apartheid South Africa was one example in relation to race. Saudi Arabia’s threats to people from the LGBTQ community constitute, I think, a similar universal ‘disincentive’ to attend or participate, at least openly. And any universal disincentive, threat or explicit prohibition is fundamentally against the ethos of an international (and universal human) sport. That’s why I oppose Saudi Arabia’s inclusion in the F1 calendar.

    1. @david-br So China and Russia are fine, but Saudi Arabia is not? Regardless of the genocide/wars going on and how LGBTQ people are prosecuted in China and Russia.

      1. China and Russia are fine

        @f1osaurus When did I say that?

        1. @david-br Well why only rant about how you oppose “Saudi Arabia’s inclusion in the F1 calendar”. Why not add, just like I oppose to add or keep places like China, Russia or for that matter Bahrain, the US and Turkey on the calendar?

          1. @f1osaurus Your argument is infantile and tiresome. I may as well ask ‘so you support human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia do you?’ And I don’t think I’ve ‘ranted’. I’ve expressed my opinion on SA, you’re the one drawing wild conclusions about my opinion concerning other countries. Truly weird.

          2. @david-br You solely picking out Saudi Arabia is hypocritical, infantile and tiresome.

            You’re the one singling out one country as if it somehow is worse than several of the others where F1 goes.

            Sure you’re not the only hypocrite on this forum, but you seem the most pedantically vocal about your utter disgust for only Saudi Arabia.

          3. Dave (@davewillisporter)
            22nd November 2020, 20:54

            @f1osaurus @david-br
            Literally cutting your own noses off to spite your faces. FFS. Big picture please! There are enough in this fraternity that decry politics in sport and then you two go to town on each other! Both of you, ask me anything about the current status of human rights in whatever country you choose. Don’t need blue on blue casualties.

          4. @f1osaurus

            You solely picking out Saudi Arabia is hypocritical

            It’s an article ABOUT Saudi Arabia. My comment contains an argument about why I think Saudi Arabia (or South Africa under apartheid) should be excluded. Whatboutism is just insulting in this case. I’ve condemned (on this site) racist policing in the US in the past, also Ecclestone allowing Putin to appear so prominently at the Russian GP, and China’s treament of the Uyghurs. Yes you can add Turkey with the Kurds, the UK for its backing of Saudi Arabia in the Yemen or the illegal invasion of Iraq, or countless other colonial adventures. I literally made the point that human rights abuses occur in many, many countries (@davewillisporter) before explaining why I would still exclude SA on the basis of Foirmula 1’s alleged ‘universality’. Neither of you could be bothered to address that original point before making your own. Feel free to criticize the point I was actually making, not opinions I never expressed, or second-guessing what I think about other issues. Thanks.

          5. @david-br Stop this “Look at me! Look at me! I’m the most political correct of the bunch. Ooooooh so snow flaky”

          6. @f1osaurus So you accuse me initially of failing to mention other countries who maybe should be barred from F1 over human rights, then accuse me of being politically correct when I answer you? Get a grip. I’m trying to answer you, but you insist on being aggressive and abusive, which is weird as I’ve had friendly discussions with you in the past. Do you do this in real life?

          7. @david-br It’s the same thing. This annoyingly political correct nonsense burning down one country while it’s not doing anything different from a lot of the other countries on the calendar.

            It’s hypocritical, infantile and tiresome.

  16. Human rights violations means not human friendly. Seems the FIA would consider that as putting the sport in disrepute regardless of anybody’s opinion on the matter.

  17. This attempt by the Saudis at sportswashing will backfire. All most westerners know about SA is that the government is barbaric, treats women as objects, are killing hundreds of thousands of Yeminis, and were more responsible for the 9/11 terror attacks than any other country.
    This race will simply be an opportunity to remind everyone how terrible the Saudis are. No one is going to forget that they chopped up a journalist in a foreign country and carried his body back in bags. No one is going to forget that some of the women who campaigned for the right to drive are languishing in prison. They will not forget because people like you and me will be reminding them. If you are complaining about us talking about human rights travesties in some of the countries F1 races, get used to it because we will only be getting louder with the addition of Saudi Arabia to the calendar.
    F1 has no business saying “we race as one” if they will host a race in such a barbaric country.

    1. This is the issue yes. We race as one blah blah, then take money from country with systemic racism and sexsism.

      It is easy to put some nice sounding paroles at start of your race, but giving up 25-30% income from racist countries is not cobsidered.

      Might aswell not have the fake pretend race intro then.

  18. Time Lewis puts his foot where his mouth is an boycotes the race.

    1. That would be the Lewis who said engage; don’t shut them out? Which is the general line from major democracies, UN, Amnesty, etc.
      So his (UN Ambassador, F1 7xWDC) mouth said engage and your ears heard boycott?

  19. I agree in principle with Lewis Hamilton that “We have to figure out how we can engage more, how we can really utilise this platform to encourage and push for change.” But the truth is, that’s not what happens. As in Bahrain, with their almost revolution, and the associated crackdown and arrests, it is all swept under the carpet and ignored.

    When do the FIA, the teams, drivers, Sky TV, or anybody discuss the human rights and government actions in Bahrain, other than as a reference to it as a historical fact.

    At the last GP the Sky crew discussed the proposed Saudi Arabian race, and they all expressed the same attitude that it’s nothing to do with them, and they go where they are told or paid. Karun Chandok said that the FIA and liberty would have examined the issues and we have to trust their judgement.

    That was it, basically Saudi Arabia has put up the cash, so shut up and race.

    1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
      22nd November 2020, 21:07

      @tambeau a correct observation. I think Lewis is about to shed that burden. I could be wrong but I have an instinct and having picked up Lewis’s vibe, with Dominecalli as Liberty CEO I suspect Lewis will be free to speak in 2021, Chase Carey is a Murdoch / Fox guy. 2021 is not that world. We watch and wait.

  20. When I was a young PR pro one of our clients was Saudi Arabia and I had to write their argument for being admitted to the UN Human Rights Council because more senior people had the luxury of refusing to do it on moral grounds. Just as now, the only conceivable argument we could make was the BS cultural heritage and tiny reforms crap they are still using today.

  21. We haven’t ignored them. We’ve simply brushed them under the carpet.

  22. Loujain al-Hathloul

    I hope he says her name live on the broadcast.

  23. I like the idea that F1 has that kind of impact when it travels to a country where human rights are being abused. But I just don’t buy it. F1 brings huge commercial benefit to countries on the circuit. You think that money will work for those in jail in Saudi Arabia? Not at all! The idea that F1 is a humanising agent and that it will shine a light on human rights abuses is frankly laughable. If they really want change they have two options as I see it 1) stop filling the coffers of corrupt and abusive governments through boycotts and sanctions 2) go ahead in these regions but only where the supply chain is protected by equitable contracts that protect workers rights and give equal access to all. The most compelling symbol is that those brave people who have stood up against the regime, for example in defending a woman’s right to drive a car are in prison whilst the elite of the world of competitive driving sip cocktails and talk about human rights abuses.

    Not good enough Bernie!

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