Lewis Hamilton wore a racing helmet prominently featuring the Progress Pride flag during a dramatic victory in the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix yesterday in Jedda, Saudi Arabia, having earlier said he felt he was "duty-bound" to use his platform to bring visibility to the host country's anti-LGBTQ+ laws which he described as "pretty terrifying."
The four-time defending world champion Formula 1 driver wore the same helmet when he won the Qatar Grand Prix last month, and he plans to wear the helmet again next Sunday in Abu Dhabi for the season's final race. Hamilton said he is wearing the helmet to show his solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community as the F1 circuit makes a controversial three-race swing through the Middle East in host countries noted for their draconian anti-LGBTQ+ laws.
"Whilst we are here it's important we do try to raise awareness," Hamilton told The Guardianlast week. "In the last race, you saw the helmet that I wore. I will wear that again here and in the next race [in Abu Dhabi] because it is an issue. If anyone wants to take time to read what the law is for the LGBT+ community, it is pretty terrifying."
"As soon as these countries choose to be under the spotlight Formula 1 is bringing, there is no excuse," Hamilton told Sky News last week. "They have taken the route of a change."
He also noted women only received the right to drive only in 2018, and that some women are still in prison for having committed the 'crime' of driving in the past.
"So there's a lot of changes that need to happen and I think our sport needs to do more."
This was the inaugural race for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. The 18.6 mile-long street track is known for its high speeds and opportunities for passing, thereby increasing the action, as well as danger, of the race. The race also took place at night, adding to the excitement.
The race pitted the season's two best drivers as they compete for the overall individual title. Red Bull Honda's Max Verstappen had been leading in the points total heading into the race and could have secured the title for the season, but is now tied with Hamilton as the head into the season's final upcoming race in Abu Dhabi. Hamilton, who drives for Mercedes, has won seven world championships, including four in a row. He needs only one more title to surpass the current record holder Michael Schumacher.
While Hamilton turns to his next race and cementing his place in Formula 1 history, he still kept the focus on the anti-LGBTQ+ laws in the races' host countries.
"There are changes that need to be made," he told Sky News.
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