A Formula 1 boss has come under fire after condemning drivers for taking stances on global issues and putting politics above the sport.
Formula 1 boss Mohammed ben Sulayem feels shockwaves throughout the F1 world with his comments relating to drivers taking stances on global issues.
The comments were made during the Monaco Grand Prix and saw Ben Sulayem say the drivers shouldn’t be putting politics first.
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In an interview with GrandPrix247, Ben Sulayem said he doesn’t impose his beliefs on other people and wants the drivers to do the same.
“Niki Lauda and Alain Prost only cared about driving,” he said.
“Now, Vettel drives a rainbow bicycle, Lewis is passionate about human rights and Norris addresses mental health. Everyone has the right to think. To me, it is about deciding whether we should impose our beliefs in something over the sport all the time.
“I am from an Arabian culture. I am international and Muslim. I do not impose my beliefs on other people? No way! Never. If you look at my operation in the UAE: 16 nationalities! Name me one federation that has that many nationalities.
“On top, 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 pose my beliefs? No. The rules are there, even now there are issues when it comes to, for example, jewellery, I didn’t write that.”
Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel have continuously shown their support for global issues such as Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ.
Vettel was recently on the cover of Attitude magazine – Europe’s largest LGBTQ publication – in which he said condemned anti-gay prejudice and called for worldwide inclusivity.
“For me, it’s very simple: how can anyone think they have the right to dictate to someone else how they should live or whom they should love?” Vettel said.
“The answer is: they don’t have that right. I’m happy to stand up for that principle.
“I’m totally against racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia and all forms of prejudice. I’m very concerned about the environment. I’ll always stand up for those values and principles.
“Whether I like someone or not has nothing to do with their sexual orientation or skin color. I see everyone as equal. But hearing from people, or reading their stories, and learning about how they dealt with suppression has surely had an impact on me, both consciously and subconsciously.”
As the backlash among F1 fans flooded in, Ben Sulayem attempted to clarify his comments on social media.
“As a driver, I have always believed in sport as a catalyst of progress in society. That is why promoting sustainability, diversity and inclusion is a key priority of my mandate. In the same way, I value the commitment of all drivers and champions for a better future,” he wrote.
Formula 1 drivers will be behind the microphones today for media sessions ahead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix practice sessions getting underway.