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Formula 1 President Mohammed ben Sulayem has taken aim at drivers for using their platform to support the LGBTQ community and the Black Lives Matter movement.
The comments came during the Monaco Grand Prix after drivers such as Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton and Lando Norris spoke out about social issues.
In an interview with GrandPrix247, ben Sulayem said: “Now, Vettel drives a rainbow bicycle, Lewis is passionate about human rights and Norris addresses mental health. Everybody 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.
He added: “But do I go and pose my beliefs? No.”
Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel recently appeared in the largest LGBTQ publication in Europe, Attitude, where he condemned anti-gay sentiment.
During his interview, he said: “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 colour. 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.”
Meanwhile, British driver Lewis Hamilton has been an avid supporter of the Black Lives Movement and in 2020 unveiled a new helmet design at the Austrian Grand Prix.
Hamilton usually wears an all-white suit and instead donned a new black helmet design that included a ‘Black Lives Matter’ message on the top.
He has also worn a number of t-shirts supporting the movement while continuing to take a knee before races.
Ben Sulayem also took aim at Lando Norris, who has been outspoken about his own mental health struggles, particularly those that him in his debut 2019 season
Norris along with McLaren teammates such as Daniel Riccardo have also been proactive in working with mental health charity Mind.
Ben Sulayem has been quick to clarify his comments after receiving backlash.
He tweeted: “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.”
Featured Image Credit: dpa picture alliance / Alamy. REUTERS / Alamy.
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