Can a Formula 1 Star Send a Message to the Saudi Government?

For human rights advocates who also enjoy the sport of car racing, a great opportunity awaits us. Lewis Hamilton, the only Black driver in the history of Formula 1 racing, has been bravely and consistently supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. In the wake of the protests against the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, Hamilton started to call Formula 1 out for its lack of diversity, even saying he would trade his 7th world championship for more diversity in the sport. Accused of bringing politics into the sporting world, he refused to back down, saying that his support for Black Lives Matter was a matter of supporting basic human rights.

Hamilton describes his concern for human rights as being global, and has expressed concern about human rights violations taking place in countries that Formula 1 travels to. During the tail end of the 2020 season when an F1 race was scheduled to take place in Bahrain, Hamilton received a letter from the young son of a man facing the death penalty in Bahrain. Moved by the plea by 11-year-old Ahmed Ramadhan to "please save my father," Hamilton replied that he "definitely won’t let it go unnoticed.”

Hamilton had plans to address the Bahraini Crown Prince about Ahmed Ramadhan’s father, as well as Bahrain’s use of torture, but unfortunately he contracted COVID-19 and was unable to travel to and race in the country. Still, Hamilton promised “When I get some time now, I will definitely try and speak to those [people] and see how I can positively impact that [race] weekend [in future].”

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