FIA boss Mohammed Ben Sulayem has back-pedaled Formula One stars Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Lando Norris to stay away from human rights and political issues and focus on driving.
In an interview with GrandPrix247 earlier this week, Ben Sulayem was quoted as saying: “Nicki Lauda and Alain Prost only care about driving.
“Everyone has a right to think. It’s up to me to decide whether we will impose our faith on the sport all the time,” he said.
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“I come from Arab culture. I am international and Muslim. I do not impose my beliefs on other people. There is no way! Never! If you look at my operations in the UAE: 16 nationalities! Tell me the name of a federation where there are many Nationality, “said Ben Sulayem.
“At most, there are more than 34 percent women and seven religions. And even more Christians than Muslims. I’m proud because it builds credibility and competence.”
“But shall I go and show my faith?”
In a tweet that did not mention the direct interview, Ben Sulayem sought to divert attention from earlier remarks that he had “always believed in sports as a catalyst for progress in society.”
“So promoting sustainability, diversity and inclusion is a key priority of my mandate. Likewise, I value the commitment of all drivers and champions for a better future.”
The FIA is the regulator of Formula One and World Motorsport
Hamilton has been a vocal supporter of many human rights issues and a critic of Formula 1 racing in Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar. He has previously accused both of them of “sportswashing” – largely hosting major sporting events across the country to distract from abuse. Qatar will host the FIFA World Cup in November.
Hamilton even wore a rainbow helmet to last year’s Qatar Grand Prix.
Sebastian Vettel also appeared on the cover of Attitude Magazine this week – a UK-based LGBTQ + publication, while Lando Norris spoke of his battle with anxiety after his debut with McLaren in 2019.
Nicki Louder’s arch-rival James Hunt has often spoken out against racism on human rights issues, especially in South Africa.
The Formula 1 Championship will continue with the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku this weekend.
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