Lewis Hamilton not 'comfortable' racing in Saudi Arabia as he criticises 'pretty terrifying' LGBT laws

Lewis Hamilton – REUTERS

Lewis Hamilton has said he does not feel entirely comfortable racing in Saudi Arabia due to the country's troubling human rights record.

At the last race in Qatar, seven-time world champion Hamilton said F1 is “duty bound” to scrutinise countries and raise awareness.

The Mercedes driver will wear a helmet sporting rainbow and coloured chevrons in support of the LGBTQ+ community in Saudi Arabia, as he did in Qatar where same-sex relationships are also illegal.

“As I said at the last race, I felt the sport and we (the drivers) are duty-bound to ensure we try and raise awareness for certain issues, especially human rights in the countries we are going to,” he said.

“With the utmost respect for everyone that is here, I have had a warm respect from everyone here on the ground. I can't pretend to ever be the most knowledgeable or have the deepest understanding of anyone who has grown up in the community here.

“Do I feel comfortable here? I couldn't say I do, but it isn't my choice to be here, the sport has taken the choice to be here and whether it is right or wrong, while we are here I think it is important to raise awareness.

“You saw my helmet in the last race and I will wear it again here and in the next race. If anyone wants to take time to read what the law is for the LGBT+ community, it is pretty terrifying.”

Hamilton heads into this weekend's inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix just eight points behind championship leader Max Verstappen with a maximum of 52 points up for grabs.

The final race of the season comes next week in Abu Dhabi and if Hamilton can fight back and claim the title, he insists it will be an unrivalled feeling.

“It would be for sure,” he replied when asked if moving clear of Michael Schumacher with an eight championship would make this one the best title yet.

“It is something no-one has ever done before, the toughest battle the sport has seen in a long, long time and the most challenging, plus we are in a pandemic and all the stuff we have been faced with.”

Verstappen, meanwhile, insists it is business as usual for him despite the fact the Red Bull driver could claim a maiden F1 title if the result goes his way at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit.

Asked how he will approach the weekend, the Dutchman replied: “Like I have the whole season, there is no change in that. I just focus on the weekend to try and be as competitive as I can be.

“I am being very neutral, not reading positive or negative things and be busy with other things in life. I come to the weekend and focus on F1 but I am also busy with other stuff and I think that helps a lot.”

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