Qatar is holding its first-ever F1 race at the Losail International Circuit this weekend before it joins the calendar as a permanent fixture from 2023 as part of a 10-year deal. 

Hamilton has replaced his usual helmet design for the event with a livery that incorporates the Progress Pride flag, featuring the colours of the LGBTQ+ community. 

A message on the back of Hamilton’s helmet reads “We Stand Together” in place of his usual ‘Still I Rise’ motto. 

Hamilton said F1 is “duty bound” to raise awareness of human rights issues in Qatar ahead of the country’s maiden grand prix. 

“Ultimately, us drivers, it’s not our choice where we get to go and race,” Hamilton said on Thursday. 

“I do feel that we are aware there are issues in these places that we are going to as there are around the world but of course it seems to be deemed one of the worst in this part of the world. 

“I do think as sports go to these places they are duty-bound to raise awareness for these issues and these places need scrutiny. 

“It needs the media to speak about these things. Equal rights is a serious issue. However, I am aware in this place they are trying to make steps and they can’t make change overnight.”

Qatar has been criticised for not taking reforms far enough on a number of issues including immigrant labour law, women’s right and the illegality of same-sex relationships. 

Hamilton said he wished more sports men and women would also speak out to raise awareness. 

“One person can only make a small difference but together, collectively we can have a bigger impact,” he added. 

“Do I wish more sportsmen and women spoke out on these issues? Yes. It’s education. It takes time to go out and learn about regions that are foreign to us.

“We’re not from these areas, it’s complex on the ground in these places with religion.

“What’s important is we still try to bring awareness to some of these problems. While there have been changes made over time, it’s never enough.

“I have been to a lot of these countries and have been ignorant, been unconscious of some of the problems in some of the places.

“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 about it when it goes to those places.

“That’s why I’ve tried to raise my voice. But there are far brighter people that are knowledgeable on these issues that are actually trying to fight them in the background.

“But I still think we can bring a spotlight to it and create that scrutiny and that pressure that can hopefully create change.”