“Sportswashing” in Formula One
From left to right Montreal-born Nicolas Latifi, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel (Front), Charles Leclerc, Daniil Kvyat and Max Verstappen (Back) sporting “End Racism” and “Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor” during the anthem before the 2020 Tuscany Grand Prix
Formula One drivers have made it increasingly clear that they do their best to militate against those issues; however, the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) decided in late 2022 to ban said political statements with their original rule stating, “The FIA’s original rule barred “political, religious and personal statements” without prior consent, and expressed no limitations on where that restriction applied.” Hamilton was, again, heard criticising the rule. “Nothing will stop me from speaking on the things that I feel that I’m passionate about and issues there are,” he said. “I feel the sport does have a responsibility, still, always, to speak out as a means to create awareness on important topics, particularly as we are travelling to all these different places, so nothing changes.”
Sebastian Vettel at the 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix sporting a “Same Love” T-Shirt during the Anthem. Via https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/f1-would-welcome-an-openly-gay-driver-says-vettel-2022-06-08/
The FIA also signed a contract to keep the Bahrain Grand Prix on the calendar until 2036. This further proves their objective to keep the tracks where money is to be made from the country itself and away from fan-favourite tracks in countries where basic human rights are respected, such as Germany and Portugal.
As a Formula One fan, it is tough to support a sport that will race in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Azerbaijan in 3 out of the 4 first races of the season, to then head to Montreal, Austria, and the UK in later stages. It is an exciting sport, but limiting your athletes’ political statements and going to countries that disregard human rights for purely monetary purposes drive away the enjoyment of the sport.