Drivers reassured about safety at Saudi Arabian Grand Prix – Autoblog -Dlight News

Drivers reassured about safety at Saudi Arabian Grand Prix - Autoblog

Formula One returns to Saudi Arabia this weekend, a year after a missile struck an oil depot near the track during race week. And while drivers expressed confidence in their safety ahead of Sunday’s race, seven-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton again spoke out about human rights issues in the state. Drivers have been assured by F1 that increased safety measures will prevent the race from being affected like last year’s, when Yemen’s Houthi rebels attacked the depot just 11 kilometers (7 miles) away during the first practice session. The attack was followed by hours of negotiations between drivers, organizers and officials, but the race went ahead. The missile strike comes two weeks after a mass execution in Saudi Arabia killed 81 people – the largest in the kingdom’s modern history. A further 16 executions followed, according to Reprieve, a non-profit organization that defends people facing human rights violations. Saudi Arabia is one of several countries accused of “sportswashing” human rights violations, using high-profile sporting events to project a favorable image. Other countries include Bahrain, which held the season-opening F1 race two weeks ago, and Qatar, which hosted soccer. Last year there is also the World Cup and its F1 race. Drivers were asked about returning to Jeddah because of last year’s missile strikes. “We trust FOM (Formula One Management) and the organization to protect us,” French driver Esteban Ocon said. , what happened last year was scary and none of us ever want to experience that. Aston Martin driver Lance Stroll echoed that, saying he “trusted that Formula One and the organization will take care of us,” while Red Bull rival Sergio Perez said he trusted “the organizations that bring us here to compete in a safe place”. is ” He spoke at a pre-race news conference scheduled for Thursday. But when it was Hamilton’s turn to speak, he said his view was “the opposite of what they said.” The Mercedes driver was then asked if he was happy to race in Saudi Arabia. “It’s open to interpretation,” Hamilton said. “Well, the thing is, if I’m not here, Formula One will continue without me. When I go to these different places, I still feel like the sport goes to places with human rights issues. , like this one, I think the game has an obligation to raise awareness,” Hamilton said. I think it needs to do more. As for what it is, I don’t have all the answers, but I think we always need to try harder to raise awareness. The family of Abdullah al-Haiti, who is facing the death penalty after his arrest in 2017 when he was 14, wrote to Hamilton this week thanking him for speaking out about their son during last year’s race. “You publicly brought attention to Abdullah’s case, and we are so grateful to you for using your platform to highlight the injustices he faces,” the family wrote in the letter, which Reprieve shared with The Associated Press. “We can’t put into words how much it means to our family to know Abdullah is not forgotten.
Cullen’s departure
Hamilton parted ways with long-term performance coach Angela Cullen on Friday after seven years of working together. Hamilton announced the split on his Instagram page. “I am a stronger athlete and a better person because of it,” Hamilton wrote. “Aang, I can’t wait to see what the future holds for you.” As at the Bahrain GP two weeks ago, Hamilton was cleared by the stewards to take part in two practice sessions on Friday after a jewelery inspection. Hamilton clashed with governing body the FIA ​​last year over a jewelery ban and received an exception for his nose stud.
Ferrari questions
Ferrari was already raising questions about the car’s reliability when Charles Leclerc retired near the end of the Bahrain GP due to engine failure while in third place. Leclerc will start Sunday’s race with a 10-place grid penalty after Ferrari used a third electronics control unit on the car’s engine. Last year, engine reliability problems while leading the Azerbaijan GP and Spanish GP forced Leclerc to retire. Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr finished fourth at the Bahrain GP, ​​48 seconds behind the Red Bull car of race winner Max Verstappen. “We’re the first ones who aren’t happy,” Sainz said. “We’ve run into issues with run speed and reliability that we honestly didn’t expect to run into.” Ferrari changed the power units of both cars on Friday as an extra precaution. Kimi Raikkonen last won the drivers’ title for Ferrari in 2007. ___ More AP Auto Racing: and

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