Vitaly Petrov’s appointment as an FIA race steward at the Portuguese Grand Prix faced further criticism on Friday after LGBTQ+ movement Racing Pride spoke out about it.
On Thursday, Lewis Hamilton had said he did not understand why the FIA had chosen Petrov to be a drivers’ steward in the wake of comments the Russian made questioning the sport’s anti-racism push.
Petrov also made controversial remarks in relation to Hamilton’s wearing of a Breonna Taylor T-shirt.
“I think half of the audience did not understand at all what this shirt was about until it was explained,” Petrov said in an interview with a Russian publication.
“And what if one of the drivers confesses to being gay and will go out with a rainbow flag and urge everyone to become gay? There can be a lot of examples.”
With Hamilton uneasy about the Petrov situation, Racing Pride, which is a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender movement working in the motor racing industry to promote inclusivity, also made clear it was not happy about the Russian’s involvement.
In a statement, it said: “Racing Pride wishes to express its concern at the appointment of Vitaly Petrov as an FIA Driver Steward for this weekend’s Portuguese Grand Prix in light of his recent, widely reported public comments relating to the #WeRaceAsOne initiative, which were both racist and homophobic in nature.
“Not only do these comments display ignorance relating to inclusion in sport, but we also believe that such comments from an FIA official are incompatible with Article 1.2 of the FIA’s Code of Ethics, which states that ‘participants to the FIA activities’ shall not be discriminated against on the basis of factors including ‘race, skin colour, gender, sexual orientation, ethnic or social origin’.”
Racing Pride went on to explain that it felt the FIA should ensure everyone in a senior position within the organisation followed the principles of its ‘We Race as One’ initiative that has been pushed hard for by F1 chiefs. It also offered its assistance in helping improve matters.
“A commitment to inclusion is a fundamental principle of good sporting governance,” the statement added.
“However, in order to be effective, such a commitment must extend to all involved in the sport, in any capacity.
“It is essential that those who are appointed to positions of authority within the sport, especially, are sensitive to, and educated in, pertinent issues and correct terminology relating to diverse communities.
“Racing Pride would be happy to work with the FIA and Formula 1 in providing such education in relation to the LGBTQ+ community, and indeed has already reached out to Formula 1 directly.
“We hope to work alongside all organisations and stakeholders within the sport who share our commitment to providing a safe and welcoming environment for all.”
Racing Pride co-founder Richard Morris, who races sportscars, added: “As a competitor in any sport, you want to know that you will receive fair, equal, impartial treatment, that you will not face discrimination on the basis of who you are, and, more than that, that you are welcome within the sport.
“That is why it is essential that those in positions of authority in any sport are educated with regard to inclusive principles, behaviour and language. This is an area in which motorsport as a whole could clearly do more, and Racing Pride would be delighted to work constructively with Formula 1 and the FIA to put that education and awareness in place.”
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