Lewis Hamilton admits he can’t stop F1 racing in Saudi Arabia

Last year's Saudi Arabian GP was almost cancelled following a nearby missile strike.

Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton has urged Formula 1 “to do more” in support of human rights ahead of this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, with the race marking 12 months since the event was almost cancelled following a terrifying explosion.

The 2022 Saudi Arabian GP was perhaps one of the most controversial races in the modern history of the sport, with a missile strike having taken place ahead of the opening free practice just nine miles away.

The missile came from Yemeni rebels who have been involved in a conflict with Saudi Arabia; however, F1 organisers have been assured ahead of this weekend that a ceasefire is currently in place.

An Aramco oil refinery was seen ablaze throughout Friday’s sessions last year, as smoke billowed in the background of the circuit.

READ: Could Max Verstappen be forced to miss the 2023 Saudi Arabian GP?

The strike resulted in an emergency meeting between drivers and F1 officials, with many having felt unsafe racing in Jeddah.

Of course, the race did go ahead in the end; however, the missile strike from last year has been a big talking point ahead of this weekend’s Saudi Arabian GP.

Haas’ Kevin Magnussen admitted that “none” of the drivers felt comfortable competing in Jeddah last season following the strike, but that the ceasefire has given him “some confidence”.

“Last year was pretty, erm, special,” Magnussen said, as reported by BBC Sport.

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“None of us enjoyed it. but it is a different situation now, there is a different political… there is a ceasefire between the two parties that were involved last year and that gives some confidence.

“Anyway, we go to these places and we just have to deal with it the best we can and get through.”

Alpine’s Esteban Ocon spoke in similar fashion, with the Frenchman adding that “we trust everyone” put on a “safe” Grand Prix.

“It was scary what happened last year and none of us wants to ever experience something like that, but we trust everyone around to put us in a safe situation to race,” Ocon said.

Hamilton, though, clearly isn’t too keen on being back in Saudi Arabia, with the driver having openly spoken against Sergio Pérez and Lance Stroll on Thursday, who both stated that The Kingdom was making positive changes.

The Mercedes driver refused to discuss the current human rights situation in Saudi Arabia, but that he thinks “the opposite to everything they [Stroll and Perez] said”.

The 38-year-old was asked if he considered not racing at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, but that even if he chose not to attend, the race would still take place.

He also urged the sport to “leave a positive impact” in the nation, with that being a “duty” of the pinnacle of motorsport.

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“If I am not here, F1 will continue on without me so what I try to do is learn as much as I can,” Hamilton said.

“I still feel that as a sport going to places with human rights issues such as this one, the sport is duty bound to raise awareness and try to leave a positive impact.

“I feel it needs to do more. What that is I don’t have all the answers but we always need to do more to try to raise awareness of things people are struggling with.”