Oct.27 - Formula 1 drivers will be able to "express themselves freely" once they touch down in Qatar next month.

With drivers including Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel so openly vocal on various contemporary political and social issues, there had been fears the criticism of human rights abuses in Qatar would not be tolerated.

However, the president of Qatar's motorsport federation insists drivers including championship contender Hamilton "will be able to express themselves freely on their platforms".

Qatar, replacing the axed Australian GP this year, has also lined up a long-term race contract, as has its controversial neighbour Saudi Arabia.

Abdelrahman al-Mannai, president of Qatar's motor racing federation but also a well-known 'energy professional', said of the country's attitude to free speech: "We have no problem with that in Qatar.

"They (F1 drivers) are free to say whatever they like," he is quoted by French-language Agence France-Presse and German-language SID.

There has been hefty international criticism of Qatar recently for the way workers at major construction projects connected with sport are treated.

Reportedly, many of those workers have even died on the job.

"Qatar is open to criticism," al-Mannai insists. "In recent years, Qatar has worked to improve the situation for its workers.

"We have made considerable progress with that although, of course, the system is not yet perfect."

But he is not expecting any of that to affect the Formula 1 race.

"Of course we expect a full house. Since we announced with Formula 1, demand has exploded," he revealed.

Al-Mannai confirmed, meanwhile, that Hamilton and co will not be free to spray champagne on the podium after the November 21 race.

"We have our values and our culture, and we respect the culture of others," he said.

"We will not use champagne or alcohol during the podium ceremony, but there will be an alternative."

He also said only small "cosmetic changes" to the circuit are required to accommodate Formula 1 at Losail.


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7 F1 Fan comments on “F1 pilots are 'free to criticise' new host Qatar next month

  1. Swede

    Say what you like Ham!

    Just don't wear a skirt, or carry a purse.

    Serena might not be wearing a skirt, and The Stallion rapper will not be left off the plane. ;)

    Oh, and your luggage and room will all be checked by the government upon your arrival. Have a nice time.

    Reply
      • shroppyfly

        As you pointed out , that's what blondie is for...as well as checking his heads ok , after a car landed on top of it

        Abdelrahman al-Mannai, president of Qatar's motor racing federation but also a well-known 'energy professional', said of the country's attitude to free speech: "We have no problem with that in Qatar. Nooo problem at all, yeah right

        Energy professional= i own lots of oil wells

        Reply
        • ReallyOldRacer

          Shrop', it's not clear if a blonde woman will be welcomed into the country, thus the worry about a hairdresser for the knight.

          Energy Professional = a bomb building specialist.

          OK, that's my xenophobic rant for the day. I'm embarrassing myself.

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          Reply
          • shroppyfly

            I think in protest Hamish should dye his hair blonde, as a protest,just checked that guys Linkedin, hes just down as a specialist.... mmm

      • Swede

        No hairdressers???

        Mattia better get a perm before he goes.
        ;)

        Angela (aka Blondie) will need to cover her head (and wear longer pants that completely cover her ankles). She may require writen permission from her father or brother to even attend?

        Reply

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