One of the main topics at a press conference at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on Friday was a critical speech by Former International Automobile Federation (FIA) President Mohammed ben Sulayem on Formula 1 social demonstrations. Citing Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Lando Norris. who advocated issues such as anti-racism, environmental awareness, LGBTQIA + community advocacy and mental health, which he saw as an imposition of ideals.
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– Niki Lauda and Alain Prost were the only ones in charge. Now, Vettel rides a rainbow bike, Lewis is passionate about human rights, and Norris deals with mental health. Everyone has the right to think. But for me, it’s about deciding whether to impose our beliefs on the sport all the time, ”he commented.
Sebastian Vettel at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix paddock with LGBTQIA + Pride flag and bracelet with Ukrainian colors – Photo: Clive Rose / Getty Images
Over the past four years, Hamilton has spoken more and more about human rights and racism. By 2020, the champion’s commitment to the black population has increased sevenfold and he is currently assisting Mercedes in the development of inclusion projects, with the creation of the Hamilton Commission to investigate the problems of people of color entering F1. and the Mission 44 Foundation.
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Vettel has been a benchmark in environmental awareness and positioning himself as an ally of the LGBTQIA + community. Four-time Aston Martin champion was on the cover of the June issue of the British magazine Attitude, the first driver to illustrate a magazine aimed at the team.
– These issues are bigger than us, bigger than what sport can be. It is important to express and mention them, to raise awareness, to educate people and to show that there are many things we can do to improve, ”said the German at a press conference in Baku.
Lewis Hamilton at the Azerbaijani GP press conference – Photo: Clive Rose / Getty Images
Hamilton said he is proud of his initiative to take the colors of the rainbow flag on his three-pointed star with Mercedes, now the W13 and seven-time champion and George Russell helmets, and assured that he will continue. To defend the causes of F1:
– That doesn’t stop us from doing what we’re doing. The sport is constantly growing and continues to be an important platform for using our voice. Here each of us can do more to spark more conversation. Things are going at a very slow pace. We need more people. I encourage all riders to be more accurate in the things they care about. I’m proud to see what Seb does and is an ally.
In addition to the doubles champion, Norris, also mentioned by Ben Sulayem, is an advocate of mental health advocacy within Formula 1. An anxious McLaren driver often deals with issues clearly.
Although Sulayem is cited as an example of the F1 exception, Lauda was one of the drivers who led the drivers ’strike at the 1982 South African Grand Prix.
Mohammed Ben Sulayem, President of the FIA, at the 2022 Monaco GP paddock – Photo: Mandoga Media / picture alliance via Getty Images
– I come from an Arab, international and Muslim culture. Do I impose my beliefs on other people? No way! If you look at how I work in the Basque Country: 16 nationalities! Tell me about a federation with so many nationalities. Women and seven religions make up more than 34%, and more Christians than Muslims. I am proud that it creates credibility and merit – continued the FIA President.
After the negative echo of the speech, ben Sulayem explained in his profile on social media.
– As a driver, I have always believed in sport as a catalyst for the advancement of society. That is why promoting sustainability, diversity and inclusion is a key priority of my mandate. I also value the commitment of all drivers and champions to a better future.
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F1 Azerbaijan GP information and schedule – Photo: Infoesporte