Hamilton says Bahrain 'death row' letter hit home
Lewis Hamilton said he had been moved by a letter from the son of a man facing the death penalty in Bahrain and assured activists on Saturday he would not let human rights issues go unnoticed.
Campaigners sent letters to the seven-times Formula One world champion last month before the first of two Grands Prix in Bahrain.
Hamilton had said then that he needed time to digest the content.
Asked for an update ahead of the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Hamilton said he had hoped to meet Bahrain's Crown Prince but testing positive for COVID-19 had ruled that out. It had given him more time to read the letters, however.
"Ultimately, it isn't necessarily my responsibility to speak out on the places that I don't know everything about but I think we together always have to work to push for change and improvements," he said.
"I think the saddest thing for me was that there is a young man on death row and it's not clear... when his son writes me a letter, that really hits home. All lives matter. I think there's definitely work to be done in the background.
"I definitely won't let it go unnoticed," he added.
"When I get some time now, I will definitely try and speak to those (people) and see how I can positively impact that (race) weekend (in future)."
Sayed Alwadaei, director of the London-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), said 11-year-old Ahmed Ramadhan had written to Hamilton for help.
His father Mohammed, a security guard, was sentenced in 2014 over the death of a policeman. Human rights groups say the conviction was based on confessions extracted through torture.
Bahrain’s government has said the case met all requirements of a fair trial, and the initial judgment was followed by a second trial that looked into the allegations of abuse.
Hamilton was also sent a photograph, through the Mercedes team, of Ahmed holding a drawing of his racing car.
Hamilton has urged Formula One to do more to push for human rights, saying the issue was a "massive problem" in some of the sport's host countries.
Bahrain's 2011 race was called off due to civil unrest in the island kingdom and the grand prix, the country's biggest sporting event, regularly draws criticism from rights campaigners.
The sport is also set to race in neighbouring Saudi Arabia for the first time next year, a move criticised by Amnesty International.
Formula One chairman Chase Carey said before the Bahrain Grand Prix that the sport was a "force for good" in the countries it visits.
Campaigners have accused the government of using the positive publicity surrounding the race to 'sportswash' the situation.
Alwadaei said Hamilton's latest words were a "watershed moment for international sport.
"When world champions like Lewis Hamilton choose to speak out, lives can change forever," he said.
Silverstone to rename pit straight after Hamilton
Silverstone will rename its International Pits Straight after seven-times Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton, the home of the British Grand Prix announced on Saturday.
Hamilton this year became the most successful Formula One driver of all time after beating Michael Schumacher's wins record and equalling the retired Ferrari great's seven championships.
Silverstone said in a statement that the stretch of track, flanked by the Wing building, would become Hamilton Straight.
"It is the first time in Silverstone’s history that a part of the circuit has been named after any individual," said British Racing Drivers' Club president David Coulthard in a statement ahead of the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
"Lewis has become a huge part of this history and the directors of the Club and I felt there was no better way to mark this than to rename the iconic pits straight in recognition of his record-breaking achievements."
Hamilton has won his home grand prix seven times.
MSP Sports Capital acquires minority stake in McLaren
US based investment group MSP Sports Capital are taking a significant minority stake in the McLaren Formula One team, McLaren Racing said in a statement on Sunday.
The deal, for an initial 15 per cent holding that will rise to a maximum 33% by the end of 2022, will value the British racing outfit at 560 million pounds ($740.49 million), it added.
Under the deal, MSP will put 185 million pounds into McLaren Racing over a two-year period.
The consortium members include The Najafi Companies, a private investment firm, and UBS O'Connor, a hedge fund subsidiary of Swiss investment banking firm UBS.
Jahm Najafi will become a vice-chairman of McLaren Racing, while Jeff Moorad of MSP and Rodrigo Trelles Zabala of UBS O'Connor will join the McLaren Racing board.
Bahrain's Mumtalakat holding company is the majority shareholder in McLaren Group. The Woking-based outfit have won the F1 constructors' championship eight times. ($1 = 0.7563 pounds)