Formula 1 boss Mohammed ben Sulayem has sent shockwaves through the F1 world with his comments on drivers taking a stance on global issues.
Comments were made during the Monaco Grand Prix and saw Ben Sulayem say drivers should not put politics first.
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In an interview with GrandPrix247, Ben Sulayem said he doesn’t impose his beliefs on others and wants drivers to do the same.
“Niki Lauda and Alain Prost were all about driving,” he said.
“Now Vettel is riding a rainbow bike, Lewis is passionate about human rights and Norris is addressing mental health. Everyone has the right to think. For me, it’s about deciding whether we should constantly impose our beliefs on the sport.
“I come from an Arabic culture. I am international and muslim. I don’t force my beliefs on others? No way! Never. If you look at my operation in the UAE: 16 nationalities! Name me an association that has so many nationalities.
“In addition, there are over 34% women and 7 religions. And even more Christians than Muslims. I am proud because it creates credibility and merit.
“But do I go and present my beliefs? no The rules are there, even now there are problems, for example when it comes to jewelry, I didn’t write that.”
Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel have consistently shown their support for global issues such as Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ.
Vettel was recently featured on the cover of Attitude magazine – Europe’s largest LGBTQ publication – condemning anti-gay prejudice and calling for global inclusion.
“For me it’s very simple: how can anyone think they have the right to tell someone else how to live or who to love?” Vettel said.
“The answer is: you don’t have that right. I am happy to support this principle.
“I am absolutely against racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia and all forms of prejudice. The environment is very important to me. I will always stand up for these values and principles.
“Whether I like someone or not has nothing to do with their sexual orientation or skin color. I see everyone the same. But hearing about people or reading their stories and seeing how they dealt with oppression has influenced me consciously and subconsciously.”
As backlash swept in among F1 fans, Ben Sulayem attempted to clarify his comments on social media.
“As a driver, I have always believed in sport as a catalyst for social progress. Therefore, promoting sustainability, diversity and inclusion is one of the top priorities of my mandate. I also appreciate the commitment of all drivers and champions to a better future,” he wrote.
Formula 1 drivers will stand behind the microphones for media sessions today ahead of the start of practice sessions for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.