‘We have nothing to hide’: Stefano Domenicali defends racing in Qatar

Qatar made its F1 debut in 2021 and will feature again in 2023 and in the foreseeable future.

Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali has defended the pinnacle of motorsport making moves in Qatar, despite the country having faced an onslaught of criticism regarding the upcoming FIFA World Cup, which the nation is hosting.

Ahead of the World Cup, which starts next weekend, governments and human rights agencies from across the world have questioned if it’s politically correct for Qatar to host such a prestigious event, following the nation’s shocking human rights’ record.

Many are believed to have died in the build-up to the World Cup whilst building the stadiums that are set to be used, with fan safety also believed to be a huge problem.

The safety of fans travelling to Qatar who are part of the LGBTQ+ community has been massively questioned, following the country’s stance on the community.

Lewis Hamilton and George Russell in 2021 Qatar GP.v1

READ: Michael Schumacher sets staggering new record despite being retired

Homosexuality is illegal still in Qatar, resulting in England captain Harry Kane, amongst others, to take action by wearing a rainbow-themed armband during the competition in support of the community.

Shockingly, an ambassador for the World Cup told a reporter during an interview on German TV that those who are part of the LGBTQ+ community are “damaged in the mind”, providing the proof needed as to why many are concerned for their safety should they travel to the Middle East.

Given that Qatar held a Grand Prix in 2021 and will do so from 2023 onwards, as a result of signing a 10-year contract, Domenicali has defended the country and the sport for racing in the nation.

Domenicali revealed that the sport has a “very serious approach” when dealing with promotors, and that a contract can be cancelled should certain points not be respected.

Article continues below

“I’ve read things about FIFA and Qatar that have nothing to do with our situation with Qatar,” he said to AFP prior to the Mexican Grand Prix.

“The (Losail) track has been there for 10 years.

“We must have a very serious approach. We check, when we go to a country, that the promoter respects certain points.

“If the promoter does not respect them, there are clauses in the contract which can end immediately”.

Qatar’s addition to the calendar adds to a concerning number of races that are continually questioned by human rights’ organisations, with events in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, Azerbaijan and China having also been questioned.

Domenicali believes that F1 is an “accelerator for change” and that the championship is cooperating with “United Nations”, to “change things” in certain countries.

“We say the same thing every time,” said Domenicali.

“We are a very open system. There are countries that want to change things, and we think that being there is a spotlight for things to change.

“We are working with the United Nations. There is no problem, we have nothing to hide.

READ: ‘Pathetic’ Sky Sports ridiculed for ‘pandering’ to Red Bull and Max Verstappen

“It is not my role to discuss politics but these countries want to change cultures which are thousands of years old. Do you think it’s possible from one day to the next?

“Formula 1 is an accelerator for change.

“If we weren’t there, we would talk less about these countries, it would be more negative.”