Lewis Hamilton Thursday expressed his fear concerning the security of this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in Jeddah, one yr after a missile barrage alarmingly near the observe.
Yemeni rebels focused an oil refinery close to the Jeddah Avenue Circuit final yr and the drivers had been grilled by reporters on Thursday about their state of nerves.
Final yr’s Grand Prix was punctuated by conferences involving drivers and officers from Method One and the game’s ruling physique, the Worldwide Motoring Federation (FIA).
The drivers mentioned that they had been instructed there was a ceasefire between Saudi Arabia and Yemeni rebels now.
Most drivers mentioned Method One had made progress in enhancing safety however the wider specter of Saudi Arabia’s human rights report remained a problem that was largely left apart.
“I am unable to converse for the opposite 19 drivers, however normally I believe we’re pleased and haven’t any issues with the modifications put in place since final time for this yr,” mentioned George Russell of Mercedes.
“There have been a number of classes to be realized and F1 has actually stepped up – and that is not simply right here in Saudi however in any respect the Grands Prix.”
Others together with Haas’s Kevin Magnussen, Pink Bull’s Sergio Perez, Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll and McLaren’s Lando Norris expressed complete belief within the sport’s administration – a sense not shared by Mercedes’s different drivers: Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton.
When requested about his emotions on returning to race in Saudi Arabia, he mentioned: “Not a lot actually so as to add – however all the alternative to every little thing they mentioned,” referring to Stroll and Perez who had spoken earlier than him at a information convention.
“Hopefully, everybody has a secure weekend and hopefully everybody will get again secure afterward. That is as a lot as we are able to do, proper?”
Talking about final yr, Magnussen mentioned: “None of us loved it. However, I believe it is a completely different scenario now, with a unique protocol and a ceasefire between the 2 events that had been concerned and that offers some confidence.”
Perez mentioned he was “pleased to be again.”
Hamilton raised one other concern – Saudi Arabia’s rights report.
“I nonetheless really feel that, as a sport going to locations with human rights points, resembling this one, the game is duty-bound to boost consciousness and attempt to go away a optimistic influence.”
Human rights group Reprieve has accused F1 of “by no means critically partaking with human rights and the way in which the game is used to distract consideration from abuses by a number of the world’s most repressive regimes.”
Reprieve director Maya Foa mentioned there had been no less than 13 executions carried out in Saudi Arabia within the final two weeks.
Method One responded in a press release that it had made its “place on human rights and different points clear to all our companions and host international locations who decide to respect human rights in the way in which their occasions are hosted and delivered.”