FIA president rows back after questioning Lewis Hamilton ‘imposing his beliefs’ on F1

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 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Mohammed Ben Sulayem has insisted that he does support Formula One drivers promoting social change after suggesting he was against Lewis Hamilton “imposing his beliefs” on the sport.

The seven-time world champion, along with Sebastian Vettel, has been a vocal advocate for greater diversity and environmental concerns in F1 - something FIA president Ben Sulayem appeared to disagree with.

However, he has since sought to clarify his stance and the 60-year-old tweeted on Thursday: “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.”

Former rally driver Ben Sulayem had stated last week that he was in favour of diversity, but outlined his concerns with Hamilton and Vettel’s stances.

“Niki Lauda and Alain Prost only cared about driving,” he had told GrandPrix247.

“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 believes in something over the sport all the time.

“I am from an Arabian culture. I am international and Muslim. I do not impose my believes 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 per cent women and sevenreligions. 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.”

Mohammed Ben Sulayem (Getty Images)
Mohammed Ben Sulayem (Getty Images)

On the topic of motorsport mixing too often with poltics, he continued: “Sadly, in a way yes. You try to separate sport from politics. We have it in our FIA status ‘neutrality’. But I think some people only see neutrality and governance when it suits them.

“For me, I come from that black or white world and it is very hard to do it. When it is governance, it has to be governance, when it is neutrality, it has to be neutrality. We are therefore for one reason and one reason only, and that is sports. Now you have to be political sometimes, but not really be a politician.

“Where do you have the balance? FIA should be careful not to be dragged into politics without forgetting our roots of motorsports.”

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