Formula 1 has always advocated the importance of human rights through itself and independently through the drivers. However, the organisation has recently come under fire for racing in Bahrain as they have been accused of ignoring Bahrain’s involvement in Yemen. A spokesperson for Formula 1 responded, “We take our responsibilities on rights very seriously and set high ethical standards for counter-parties and those in our supply chain. These were enshrined in contracts, and we pay close attention to their adherence,” reported BBC.
But the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (Bird) admitted that Formula 1 has abandoned those who have been tortured and imprisoned as a result of criticism of the race. In a letter to F1 President and Chief Executive Officer, Mr Stefano Domenicali, from Bird’s director of advocacy, the letter states the sheer disappointment of Formula 1 awarding Bahrain with a 15-year contract, saying that it directly contradicts the human rights claims of the establishment.
Bird also supported the cancellation of the Russian Grand Prix as a result of the Russian invasion but accused the establishment of responsibility as they continued to race in the middle east, with a clear practice of double standard as Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain hold long contracts with Formula 1 race despite their involvement in human rights abuse in Yemen.
The Bahrain government has however responded to the claims and called them absurd with a lack of context. They also said that Bahrain has been at the forefront of leading reforms in human rights with an independent human rights ombudsman, police code of conduct and criminal justice reforms and that it actively supports the role Formula 1 plays in supporting human rights in all countries they race in.