F1 bosses defend controversial Saudi Arabia race

(GMM) Top F1 team bosses have defended the decision to add a new race in Saudi Arabia to the sport’s unprecedented 23-round schedule for 2021.

After news of the as-yet unpublished provisional calendar leaked, Amnesty International slammed Formula 1 for apparently allowing the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to “sports-wash” its human rights record with a top global event.

When asked about that, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said at Imola: “Sports should unite people and help change the world for the better.

“A year ago, I went to Riyadh for the Formula E race and I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw. I can only judge with my own eyes but I saw a wonderful weekend without any sign of inequality – it was women and men enjoying the sporting spectacle together.

Simon Roberts (GBR) Williams Racing F1 Acting Team Principal in the FIA Press Conference responds to Saudi Arabia questions

“You always need to start somewhere and I think Formula E was the first step and now we need to continue to try to help change the world gradually for the better,” he added.

Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto agrees: “Holding sports competitions is always positive.

“Sport always carries a positive message, which is the way I think we should look at this.”