At the 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Hamilton publicly said that he felt “uncomfortable” being there due to the country’s human rights record.
Hamilton who had difficulties in racing at the Saudi Arabian Grand Pix was eliminated in first qualifying round after finishing position 16.
When asked if his attitude has changed since last weekend, Hamilton said: “I’m at a loss for what to say. My position is unchanged from when I spoke here last year.”
Following a missile strike on an oil facility near the Jeddah circuit, the destiny of the Saudi Grand Prix hung in the balance last week, and F1’s drivers met with government officials to debate whether or not to continue with the weekend.
THE F1 DRIVERS HELD A MEETING TO DISCUSS ABOUT SAUDI ARABIAN GP
And it has now been revealed that during those meetings, Saudi Arabia’s minister of sport, His Royal Highness Prince Abdulaziz Bin Turki Al-Faisal, offered Hamilton the opportunity to sit down and discuss his concerns about competing there.
“I saw Lewis’s statements and that he had difficulties with some things in Saudi Arabia,” Prince Abdulaziz said of the seven-time champion’s concerns about the country.
“I told him openly and frankly that you can speak to me. Let’s sit down, discuss your issues, and understand where we are because a lot of these things, you read a lot about Saudi Arabia, but you don’t see the details.”
According to Prince Abdulaziz, Saudi wants to be as transparent as possible when addressing outsiders’ concerns, which is one of the reasons it wants major athletic events like Formula One to spotlight the country.
“We could have said we don’t want a headache, let the international community condemn us as much as they like and have controversy, but no one interferes,” he said. “But we didn’t.
We’re here for an open discussion, and that’s what I said with the FIA and F1. We should sit together and understand the situation because we’re here together.
“That is why I openly spoke to the drivers and spoke to Lewis Hamilton directly, saying that if you want to discuss these issues, you’re more than welcome to discuss it with me because he said that he couldn’t find anyone to discuss it with.
“So I’m ready to sit with him. Many of these issues ignite because there is no communication and there is no understanding of what’s happening.
“It’s a small world today in terms of communication, but we live in different parts of the world with different cultures and mindsets. We’re open to discussion, we’re open to all of that, and we’re happy to do so.”
Prince Abdulaziz also said that he had a private conversation with Sebastian Vettel in 2021, following the German’s criticism of Saudi Arabia before the race weekend.
On the other hand, Vettel sponsored a karting day for local females upon his arrival in the country to gain a better understanding of the situation on the ground.
PRINCE ABUDLAZIZ SPOKE TO VETTEL LAST YEAR OVER THE SAME CONCERNS
“I did speak to Seb last year, and I told him, ‘listen, thank you for doing that,” explained Prince Abdulaziz. “For you to understand more, don’t talk to us; talk to the people. And definitely, that’s the message we give to everyone.
“I’m not saying that we’re perfect. I’m not saying that we’re the best in the world. We have our issues, yes. But we are solving them, and we’re moving forward at the pace we can move on with.
“We sometimes move very quickly, but sometimes some things change slowly. These are very complicated issues that we need to all take care of, and we’re doing it for us.
“We’re doing it because we believe that we need to prosper in this area. And if we do that, then everyone else rises towards where we are.
“It’s our duty to make sure that the future is prosperous for our children and everyone who wants to live in the kingdom and the area.”
Saudi Arabia has widely been critised for human rights abuse. This abuses include:
Travel bans, public speaking, resumption of human rights activity, and use of social media are among the conditions imposed.
This, violates their rights to freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly in the country, as well as freedom of movement outside the country.