FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem has issued a statement that appears to respond to criticism surrounding comments he made regarding the human rights protests of Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton.
Ben Sulayem, who assumed his post during the winter, appeared to question whether drivers should "impose their beliefs" on others, during an interview with GrandPrix247.
He pointed to comments and protests made by Lewis Hamilton (human rights), Sebastian Vettel (LGBTQ rights) and Lando Norris (mental health).
The 60-year-old then pointed to his upbringing in an Arabian culture and added: "I do not impose my beliefs on other people? No way."
What did Ben Sulayem say?
Ben Sulayem is quoted to have said: "Niki Lauda and Alain Prost only cared about driving. 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.
"On top, there are over 34% women and 7 religions. And even more Christians than Muslims. I am proud because it creates credibility and merit.
"But do I go and pose my beliefs? No. The rules are there, even now there are issues when it comes to – for example – jewellery, I didn’t write that."
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Ben Sulayem issues statement amid criticism
With the quotes drawing criticism online, especially on social media, Ben Sulayem has now released a statement ahead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix weekend.
He has said: "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."
Hamilton, Vettel and Norris are yet to comment.
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