Imola (AP) – Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has defended Formula 1 plans for a race in Saudi Arabia next year.

“We have to start somewhere. We have to do what we can to make the world a better place,” said the Austrian on the sidelines of the Formula 1 stint in Imola. Sport must unite, said Wolff. During his visit to the Formula E race in Riyadh last year, he was impressed by the change and conditions in the host country, the 48-year-old said.

Formula 1 is apparently planning a city race in Jeddah in the fall of 2021. The human rights organization Amnesty International has sharply criticized this. With the guest appearance of the racing series, Saudi Arabia wanted to distract from the bad human rights situation in the state.

Mercedes superstar Lewis Hamilton pointed out that Formula 1 could be a “powerful platform to get things moving”. Sport has the power to change the world for the better, the World Cup leader assured. In the future, Formula 1 will have to ask even more about how it can contribute to positive change in its host countries. But he doesn’t know enough about the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia for a final verdict.

Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel did not want to comment on the plans for Formula 1. “I know too little about it,” said Hessian. Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto emphasized: “Sport can do a lot of good.”

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