Lewis Hamilton has never expressed excitement at racing in Saudi Arabia. In 2021, he famously spoke about being "uncomfortable" being in the country because of its human rights record.
Hamilton's views on racing in the country haven't changed since. Last year, the Brit stated that his position was "still the same" when asked to revisit his comments on the country. The situation was further complicated by a missile attack on an oil facility near the Jeddah circuit around the same time as the race weekend, prompting widespread debate about the need for Formula 1 to conduct races in hostile territories.
Ahead of the 2023 Saudi Grand Prix, when asked if he ever thought of boycotting this particular race, the 38-year-old stated that the sport would not come to a grinding halt if he decides to skip one race.
Lewis Hamilton said (via motorsport.com):
"Formula 1 will continue on without me. So, what I try to do is just try to learn as much as I can when I'm going to these different places. I still feel that, as a sport going to places with human rights issues such as this one, the sport is duty bound to raise awareness and try to leave a positive impact."
"And I feel like it needs to do more. What that is, I don't have all the answers. But I think we always need to do more to raise awareness for things that people are struggling with."
TV broadcaster praises ‘amazing’ Lewis Hamilton, calls him incredibly important to F1
Formula 1 presenter Naomi Schiff opined that Lewis Hamilton's presence in Formula 1 was very important for the sport.
Hamilton has always battled for equality in the sport, both racially and in terms of gender. He has regularly promoted the W Series and has called for more women to be involved, either as drivers or engineers.
When Schiff received abuse from trolls online last year, the Mercedes driver came to her defense, saying:
"Naomi has been been a great asset since joining, and we should welcome more representative broadcasting with open arms. Still have a long way to go to change these attitudes in sport."
Schiff has stated that she values Hamilton's presence and that she looks up to him. Praising the seven-time world champion, she said:
"I feel very, very lucky to have Lewis Hamilton as an ally while going through my journey in this industry. It’s incredibly valuable. I obviously really look up to him and I think he’s not just an incredible athlete but an incredible human and I think he has a lot to offer in terms of advice and support. He’s amazing."