In a recent interview with GrandPrix247, the FIA’s new president used Hamilton, Vettel and Norris as examples that F1 drivers should not “impose their beliefs” in the sport. 

Multiple-time world champions Hamilton and Vettel have been two of F1’s most outspoken drivers when it comes to voicing their opinions on matters relating to human rights issues, the environment, as well as being allies of the LGBTQ+ community.

Meanwhile, McLaren’s Norris has opened up about his struggles with anxiety when he made his F1 debut in a bid to help more people speak out about their mental health. 

While he did not refer directly to the interview, Ben Sulayem made a statement on social media ahead of this weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku. 

“As a driver, I have always believed in sport as a catalyst of progress in society,” he wrote on Twitter. 

“That is why promoting sustainability, diversity and inclusion is a key priority of my mandate. In the same way, I value the commitment of all drivers and champions for a better future.” 

What did Ben Sulayem say? 

According to GrandPrix247, Ben Sulayem is quoted to have said: "Niki Lauda and Alain Prost only cared about driving. Now, Vettel drives a rainbow bicycle, Lewis is passionate about human rights and Norris addresses mental health. Everybody has the right to think. To me, it is about deciding whether we should impose our beliefs in something over the sport all the time.

"I am from an Arabian culture. I am international and Muslim. I do not impose my beliefs on other people? No way! Never. If you look at my operation in the UAE: 16 nationalities! Name me one federation that has that many nationalities.

"On top, there are over 34% women and 7 religions. And even more Christians than Muslims. I am proud because it creates credibility and merit.

"But do I go and pose my beliefs? No. The rules are there, even now there are issues when it comes to – for example – jewellery, I didn’t write that."

Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton support Pride Month

Vettel became the first F1 driver to feature on the cover of Attitude magazine, the LGBTQ+ publication.

"Perhaps it wouldn't have been the case in the past, but now I think a gay Formula One driver would be welcomed – and rightly so,” he said.

“I feel that a gay driver would help to speed up the elimination of prejudice and help push our sport in a better direction. 

“So I think and hope our sport would be ready for one.”

Hamilton had ‘liked’ Vettel’s cover shoot on social media.

Hamilton also supported Mercedes’ posts which said “Happy Pride Month”.