Saudi Arabian GP: Drivers given assurances about safety
Formula One returned to Saudi Arabia this weekend, a year after a missile attack hit an oil depot near the track during race week.
Drivers expressed safety confidence heading into Sunday’s race, but seven-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton has again spoken out about human rights issues in the kingdom.
Drivers have been assured by F1 that increased safety measures will prevent the race from being affected as it was last year. After extensive discussions, the race continued.
The missile strike came two weeks after the mass execution of 81 people in Saudi Arabia. It is the largest in the kingdom’s modern history. Since then, he has had 16 more executions, according to Reprieve, a non-profit organization that advocates for people facing human rights violations.
Saudi Arabia is one of several countries accused of “sportswashing” human rights violations by using high-profile sporting events to project a positive image. Others include Bahrain, which hosted his season-opening F1 race two weeks ago, and Qatar, which hosted football’s World Cup last year and is also hosting an F1 race.
The driver was asked about returning to Jeddah following last year’s missile attacks.
French driver Esteban Ocon said: “We trust FOM (Formula One Management) and the organization to keep us safe. “Obviously what happened last year was horrific and our No one wants to go through something like that.
Aston Martin driver Lance Stroll said: “We are confident that F1 and the organization will look after us.”
They spoke at a pre-race press conference scheduled for Thursday. However, when it was Hamilton’s turn to speak, he said his view was “the exact opposite of everything they said.”
The Mercedes driver was asked if he was happy with racing in Saudi Arabia.
“It’s open to interpretation,” Hamilton said. “I hope everyone has a safe weekend and a safe trip home afterwards.”
Hamilton was asked if he had considered not racing in Saudi Arabia due to human rights concerns.
“Well, if I wasn’t here, F1 would go on without me. When I go to these different places, I still feel like I’m going to a place with human rights issues as a sport. As such, we feel the sport has an obligation to raise awareness,” Hamilton said. I think we always need to try harder to raise the level of
The family of Abdullah Al-Hawaiti, who faces the death penalty after being arrested in 2017 at the age of 14, sent Hamilton a letter this week thanking him for telling him about his son during last year’s race.
“You have publicly brought attention to Abdullah’s case. “I cannot express how much it meant to our family to know that Abdullah was not forgotten.”
Hamilton parted ways with long-term performance coach Angela Cullen on Friday, after working with him for seven years.
Hamilton announced the split on his Instagram page.
“She made me a stronger athlete and a better person,” Hamilton wrote. “Thank you for everything Ang. I can’t wait to see what your future holds.”
As with the Bahrain Grand Prix two weeks ago, Hamilton was cleared by the stewards for Friday’s two practice sessions after a jewelry inspection.
Hamilton was granted an exception for nose studs last year after clashing with the FIA over a jewelry ban.
Questions about Ferrari
Ferrari have already questioned the car’s reliability after Charles Leclerc retired with engine failure in third place near the end of the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Leclerc will start Sunday’s race with a 10-place grid penalty because Ferrari used a third electronic control unit in his car’s engine.
Last year, engine reliability issues forced Leclerc to retire while leading the Azerbaijan and Spanish Grand Prix.
Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr. finished fourth at the Bahrain Grand Prix, 48 seconds behind race winner Max Verstappen’s Red Bull car.
“We’re the first to not be happy,” said Sainz. “We’ve faced race pace and reliability issues that we honestly didn’t expect to face.”
Ferrari replaced both cars’ power units on Friday as a further precaution.
Kimi Raikkonen won Ferrari’s last drivers’ title in 2007.