Lewis Hamilton: Important athletes speak out about places like Qatar

Lewis Hamilton said it is the responsibility of athletes to raise objections to country's human rights' records, ahead of F1's first Qatar Grand Prix.

Qatar hosts its debut race at Losail this weekend and has signed a 10-year deal to host a race from 2023 onwards.

Human rights groups are critical of Qatar for a number of issues, including male guardianship policies and laws against women and LGBTQ+ individuals. The state's sponsored labour policy has also been brought into focus as Qatar ramps up preparations to host next year's football World Cup.

Hamilton, who has become F1's loudest voice for speaking about global issues, said it would be wrong to shy away from objecting to the country's record ahead of the race.

"I do feel that we're aware there are issues in these places that we're going to, as they're all around the world," he said. "But of course [Qatar] seems to be deemed as one of the worst in this part of the world.

"I do think as the sports go to these places, they are the duty bound to raise awareness for these issues.

"These places need scrutiny from the media to speak about these things. Equal rights is a serious issue."

Hamilton said he wished more athletes used their platform to speak out.

He added: "If we are coming to these places, we need to be raising the profile of the situation. One person can only make a certain amount of small difference but collectively we can have a bigger impact.

"Do I wish that more sportsmen and women spoke out on these issues? Yes.

"It's down to whether you decide to educate yourself and hold the sport more accountable and make sure the sport is actually doing something when they go to those places."