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Sebastian Vettel

Vettel organises women-only karting race in Saudi Arabia

Sebastian Vettel wants to "concentrate on the positives" of racing in Saudi Arabia and invited some women to go karting with him ahead of the weekend.

Vettel USA 2021
Article
To news overview © Aston Martin

Sebastian Vettel took it upon himself to organise a karting event for women in Saudi Arabia ahead of Formula 1's inaugural race in the Kingdom this weekend.

Women have only been permitted to drive in Saudi Arabia since mid-2018, and Formula 1's arrival in the country has brought into focus some of the country's less progressive viewpoints on human rights.

Rather than focusing on the negative aspects of these mentalities or restrictions, Vettel invited some women along to race with him and spoke about the experience on Thursday at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit.

"It was really, really exciting," Vettel told accredited media, including RacingNews365.com.

"Obviously, there's been a lot of talk and thought heading into the race here, the first time we race in Saudi Arabia. A lot of questions that have been asked, and I've asked myself, so I was thinking of what I can do.

"We have so much attention, there's so much focus on negative examples when it comes to shortcomings of certain countries in regards to human rights and other things, but I really tried to think of the positives, so I set up my own karting event under the hashtag 'Race For Women'."

"I was very inspired by their stories"

Vettel went on to reveal more details about the event, which he described as "very memorable and inspiring".

He explained: "We had a group of seven or eight girls and women on the track and set up a nice event only for them. I was trying to pass on some of my experiences in life and obviously on track, to do something together, to grow their confidence.

"Obviously, in Saudi Arabia, women have only been allowed since [2018] to drive a car. So some of them had a licence, others did not. Some of them were huge F1 enthusiasts, others had nothing to do with Formula 1 or racing before today.

"So it was a good mix of women from different backgrounds and a great event - everybody was extremely happy. I was very inspired by their stories and their background, their positivity about the change in the country.

"It's true that obviously, if we look from a Western or European lens, there are still lots of things that should be improved and have to be addressed, but it's also true that some things are changing. And for those people, they make a huge difference.

"So, in the end, it's very difficult for us to come to a country where we spend maybe only a couple of days and try to be a perfect judge by not knowing the background exactly and the people inside out. For me, it was important to get to know some of these women.

"I think it was a very memorable and inspiring day and a great way to kick off the weekend, and that's the main thing - focusing on the positive."

F1 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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