The Formula 1 circus is for the first time in Qatar. Then Lewis Hamilton (36) uses the opportunity for a silent protest against the authorities in the Gulf state.
Norway and several other national football teams have in various ways expressed their concern about the conditions for foreign workers in the country that will host the World Cup next year.
Lewis Hamilton puts the spotlight on something completely different: On the occasion of this weekend’s Grand Prix race in Qatar, he had the rainbow flag painted on his helmet.
On the back of Hamilton’s helmet it says this weekend: “We stand together”. He has previously had the text “Still We Rise” there.
After training on Friday, the man with start number 44 posted pictures of the helmet on social media:
Hamilton is praised by the LGBT community for his small protest:
– This fills me with hope. It is an incredible supportive act from Lewis to show solidarity with the LGBT community in connection with Formula 1 visiting a region where LGBT people face discrimination and challenges when it comes to human rights, says Richard Morris to the news agency PA, reproduced by The Guardian. He is the founder of an organization called Racing Pride.
– It shows how the sport can be used as a platform to promote values for inclusion around the world. When I was growing up and started in motorsport, there were no LGBT drivers I could look up to and no one discussed or showed support for LGBT inclusion.
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According to the 2021 report to Human Rights Watch same-sex relationships can be punished with one to three years’ imprisonment in Qatar. The same report writes that Muslims can receive the death penalty for sexuality other than that between women and men, but there are no known cases of the death penalty for homosexuality. The authorities do not recognize same-sex marriage.
At the press conference in Qatar on Thursday, Lewis Hamilton was asked about human rights.
– It is difficult to talk about. As drivers, we have no choice where to drive. It is progressing here, but it is not getting better overnight. There is still a long way to go, said the reigning world champion then.
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He added that Formula 1, by going to Qatar, had a duty to focus on the situation of foreign workers.
Lewis Hamilton has the best starting track in the Qatar Grand Prix on Sunday. He was almost half a second better than World Cup rival Max Verstappen in qualifying. The Dutchman has the second best starting track, while Valtteri Bottas is in the row behind them.
Hamilton won last weekend in Brazil and reduced Verstappen’s lead in the World Cup to 14 points.