Formula 1 | Free speech: F1 ‘wants to silence’ Hamilton, says NGO

This is another project that the FIA ​​(and F1) will have to manage in the 2023 season: new, more restrictive rules in terms of drivers’ freedom of expression and a kind of previous censorship in F1 (see article).

And the pressure on this matter has already started to increase.

The Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (Bird), a London-based NGO that works for human rights in Bahrain, of course the home of the F1 Grand Prix, has therefore condemned what would be a real failure at the race. freedom of expression.

The association says the new rules will deter pilots “Making their voices heard on issues like racism and human rights. »

According to BIRD, who spoke to the FIA, this is even a “The reaction to the attitude of some drivers, especially Lewis Hamilton, who expressed concerns about the countries chosen for F1 races, especially about respect for human rights in the host countries and forcefully interfering with where your own organization is . [la FIA] shut up” (we know how active Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton have been recently with their stances on the environment or racism).

” [Lewis Hamilton] used his platform to support Black Lives Matter and human rights in countries with troubled human rights records, including Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. continues the merger.

In a letter consulted by the BBC, its director, Syed Ahmed Alwadaei, reminds us that the FIA, which intends to limit political positions, should, in short, first look in the mirror.

“Throughout his career, no statement by Hamilton could be considered more political than the FIA’s decision not to compete in Russia last season due to interference in Ukraine. »

He will also speak directly with the director of the association, Mohammad Ben Sulayem…

In your statement last year, you condemned the Russian invasion and expressed your “sorrow and shock” for the victims in Ukraine. Although I welcome this statement, it is clearly a political statement. »

Explaining himself further on the BBC microphone, Syed Ahmed Alwadai put this new rule on freedom of expression in the context of the proliferation of F1 races in the Middle East (with Grand Prix in Qatar, Saudi Arabia). Arabia, Bahrain or the United Arab Emirates).

Is too much politics killing business? Alwadaei is targeting the FOM as much as the FIA ​​and its president Mohammed Ben Sulayem…

“When the FIA ​​and F1 choose to license some of the world’s most repressive regimes, such as Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, they facilitate the laundering of regimes through sport and allow these dictatorships to launder their monstrous rights. . »

“It is deeply disturbing to see the FIA ​​now emulating the tactics of its despotic trading partners by trying to silence critics and defenders. »

“The FIA ​​and F1 have failed, drivers like Lewis Hamilton have stood up and spoken out against the abuse and his public support for political prisoners in Bahrain has helped shine a light on a terrible injustice. »

“Today, the FIA ​​wants to silence him and others and punish them if they dare to speak out. We tell Muhammad Ben Sulaym that this policy is wrong and must be reversed immediately. »

Broken promises

Remembering this, Alwadei almost regrets the era of Jean Todt “We accepted [en mars 2021] reassuring assurance that your predecessor insisted on the FIA’s adoption of a human rights policy. »

But this commitment was never followed through, he concludes: “Unfortunately, Jan Todt’s presidency ended without a human rights policy and it is not clear whether the FIA ​​is still working on it under your leadership. »

The first Grand Prix of the season will be held in Bahrain at the beginning of next March: it promises to be lively behind the scenes…

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