F1 has been accused of being complicit in sportswashing and contradicting its commitment to diversity and equality by securing a new, lucrative long-term agreement for Saudi Arabia to join the calendar. 

But F1 president and CEO Stefano Domenicali has argued sport can help to promote change by racing in countries such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia. 

At the last race in Qatar, seven-time world champion Hamilton said F1 is “duty bound” to scrutinise countries and raise awareness. 

And ahead of this weekend’s inaugural grand prix in Jeddah, Hamilton conceded he is not entirely comfortably with F1’s decision. 

“As I said at the last race [in Qatar], I felt that the sport and we are duty bound to try to help raise awareness for certain issues that we’ve seen, particularly human rights in these countries that we’re going to,” Hamilton said.

“With the upmost respect to everyone that’s here, so far I’ve had a warm welcome from everyone on the ground. 

"I can’t pretend to ever to be the most knowledgeable or have the deepest understanding of someone who has grown up in the community here that is heavily affected by certain rules and the regime. 

“Do I feel comfortable here? I wouldn’t say I do. But it’s not my choice to be here, the sport has taken the choice to be here. Whether it’s right or wrong, whilst we’re here again, I feel it’s important that we do try to raise awareness.”

As he did in Qatar, Hamilton will continue to wear a helmet design promoting LGBTQ+ rights at the Saudi Arabian GP. 

Hamilton described the situation facing the LGBTQ+ community and women in Saudi Arabia as being “pretty terrifying”. 

“In the last race for example, you saw the helmet that I wore. I will wear that again here again and the next race, because that’s an issue,” Hamilton said. 

“And if anyone wants to take the time to read what the law is for the LGBTQ+ community, it’s pretty terrifying. There’s changes that need to be made. 

“Those changes, for example, women’s rights of being able to drive in 2018, is how they’re policed. Are they really in effect? Why are some of the woman still in prison from driving many, many years ago? 

“There’s a lot of change that needs to happen and I think our sport needs to do more.”