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Organisation GP Saudi Arabia over criticism Hamilton

Saudi Arabian organisers are fine with Hamilton: 'He can say what he wants'

18 March 2023 at 14:55
Last update 18 March 2023 at 16:38
  • GPblog.com

The organisers of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix have made it clear they have no problem with Lewis Hamilton's criticism. The organisation, through Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Al Abdullah Al-Faisal, states that Hamilton is completely free to criticise the organisation or the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia.

Prior to the 2022 Saudi Arabia Grand Prix, a rocket attack took place near the circuit. In view of this, several drivers were asked if they felt it was safe enough to race in Jeddah this year, to which almost all of them indicated that they felt comfortable on the track. Only Hamilton declared he disagreed, immediately taking the opportunity to criticise the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia. The Mercedes driver also drove with a rainbow flag on his helmet on Friday in support of the LGBTQ+ community. Same-sex marriage is banned in Saudi Arabia and can be punishable by death.

'We don't want to force Lewis to change'

Al-Faisal, however, has no problem with Hamilton's activism, he makes clear. " We want everyone to speak their mind. We have nothing against anybody’s opinion," the prince said, quoted by Motorsportweek. "As we respect their opinion, we ask them as well to respect our culture. We’re not trying to force or stop Hamilton from saying what he wants to say, or wearing what he wants to wear. If he thinks that this is something right, and he wants to speak about it, it’s his right and we respect that."

"He understands us and we understand him ," Al-Faisal continued. "We don’t want to change anybody, and we’re not expecting Lewis to change, as much as we don’t want the people to expect that we will completely change as well. People need to know that we have our laws and our culture."