Formula 1: Stefano Domenicali outlines positives he hopes Qatar and Saudi Arabia GPs will bring


Formula 1 heads to the Middle East for the final three races of the season with Grands Prix in Qatar, Saudi Arabia and then Abu Dhabi to bring a close on a thrilling 2021 campaign.

It’s been an epic year, and one that will hopefully get a fittingly enthralling conclusion in the final three races but, of course, you cannot escape some of the negative headlines that surround two of the countries we’re going to be visiting in the coming weeks.

The Qatar Grand Prix this weekend and the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix on December 5th, whilst surely spectacular events in themselves, will be shrouded by headlines around poor human rights records in both countries.

As a sport that races under the message ‘We Race As One,’ Formula 1 has copped a bit of flak from some quarters in heading to such parts of the world but, on the flipside, CEO Stefano Domenicali believes heading to these nations and shining a spotlight on them is the only way we will truly see them improve things, rather than shutting them out and excluding them.

In many ways, it’s a logical way to think about it – these countries with the glare of the world on them in the coming weeks will want to enhance their respective reputations, not sully it, and hopefully events like a Formula 1 Grand Prix can help them do that.

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Indeed, Domenicali, speaking to the BBC, explained his view point and the positives he has already seen since the events were announced:

“If you look pragmatically at what they are doing, in terms of for example women, they have women in prominent positions in the organisation, they are working and respecting the regulations,” Domenicali said.

“I believe the spotlight we are bringing will be beneficial for the will and the wishes of change that these countries are showing.

“I don’t believe that shutting countries off and saying we don’t want to be there will help the situation to improve. Actually, it will be the opposite.

“It doesn’t mean everything is perfect, but for sure what we are doing and what we are signing off is headed in the right direction.”



The former Ferrari man also revealed that F1’s contracts with the two countries include clauses that any abuse of human rights in connection with the sport will see them immediately lose their agreements.

The Italian went on to say that independent auditors were also installed by F1 to guarantee workers’ rights were fully respected during the building of the Jeddah circuit in Saudi.

Hopefully, then, Formula 1 can be a force for positive change in these nations.

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