Lewis Hamilton calls for scrutiny on Qatar over human rights issues ahead of maiden grand prix

Lewis Hamilton wants Formula 1 to hold Qatar to account by raising awareness of its human rights issues.

Qatar will host its first grand prix this weekend with a 10-year contract kicking in from 2023 that is thought to be the most lucrative in F1.

And the seven-time world champion, who closed in on Max Verstappen in what has become a gripping drivers’ championship after victory in Brazil last weekend, wants the sport to inspire change.

Hamilton said: “As sports go to these places, they are duty-bound to raise awareness for these issues.

“These places need scrutiny. Equal rights is a serious issue.”

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Qatar’s human rights record, which, along with Saudi Arabia, is described as “extremely troubling” by Amnesty International.

And while Hamilton has called for change, with Saudi Arabia set to come into focus in a few weeks on the calendar, the 36-year-old is aware that time is needed.

Hamilton added: “I am aware that in this place they are trying to make steps and it can’t change overnight.”

Ahead of the inaugural Qatar Grand Prix this weekend, Hamilton said he has a “different viewpoint” having all-but written off the flashpoint as a racing incident immediately after the race.

“I think the reason I said that at the time was the mentality you have to take,” he said. “If you sit in the car in the moment and complain it will only hold you back. In the moment I could only move forward.

“It is difficult to judge when you haven’t seen all the angles. Of course I’ve relooked at it and I have a different viewpoint, naturally, now. But I’m just putting all my energy into setting up the car and making sure I’m in the right head space.”

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