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  • Reese Mautone

Saudi Arabia's Wealth Again Disproves F1's Intent To Back The 'We Race As One' Message, Surprised?

Yet again, Formula 1 continues to highlight how fragile their motivations are to commit to the 'We Race As One' motto in the face of money.

Despite the welcoming experience of a new circuit, new country and further global expansion of the sport by fans, there is an overall feeling of discomfort surrounding many of the races on the calendar in conjunction with the highly promoted message: 'We Race As One', and Saudi Arabia is a key part of that.

The message is supposedly highlighting the sport's commitment to equality and justice, yet endorsing and racing in countries where their own citizens' human rights are simply abused immediately contradicts these positive messages. To simply name a few of the issues taking place within the kingdom's border, we'd be including racism in the form of violence and unlawful killings, wage theft, no protection under the law for foreigners, an overall corrupt policing and prison system and unfortunately so much more. Many drivers have ceased to be quiet on these matters in the past, namely Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, and continue to speak up. In the past, F1 brought in a spokesperson from Saudi Arabia to discuss these issues with the drivers in private, however, from an outside perspective, it seems as if this conversation did nothing but fuel the fire for some.

"These places need scrutiny. Equal rights is a serious issue." - Lewis Hamilton.

In the past, Hamilton has made it abundantly clear that in this sport, it is money that does the talking, as opposed to the decency of morals, and in combination with claims that Saudi Arabia is 'sports-washing' their human rights issues, Hamilton had a lot more to add.

"As sports go to these places, they are duty bound to raise awareness for these issues", Hamilton said, calling upon his F1 superiors to make a stronger commitment to their wavering message. However, many human rights groups see it fitting that the event is boycotted by the championship contender, a choice that would presumably lose him his 8th title, but draw attention to the systemic human rights violation. A nearly impossible decision to have to contend with on top of a title fight, it would call into play Hamilton's professionalism again the degree of this moral compass, along with the other drivers.

A voice from Liberty Media, F1's parent company has this to say on the issue:

“For decades Formula One has worked hard to be a positive force everywhere it races, including bringing economic, social, and cultural benefits.

“Sports like Formula One are uniquely positioned to cross borders and cultures to bring countries and communities together to share the passion and excitement of incredible competition and achievement.

“We take our responsibilities very seriously and have made our position on human rights and other issues clear to all our partners and host countries who commit to respect human rights in the way their events are hosted and delivered.”

When asked about his personal views about racing in Saudi Arabia for the penultimate race of the season, four-time world champion, Vettel, said mum on the situation, simply smiling and responding: "Next question."

It's an uncomfortable topic to deal with, especially in a sport driven by power and money. So much lies on the line for any driver making speaking up an understandably frightening prospect. However, if a change is to be made, it will not be by an individual, rather the collective. Fans, teams, and anyone else who sees it as an issue can help to make erase that issue, even a little bit.

Individual voices matter, but together they are heard.



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