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F1 | Saudi Arabian GP | Sebastian Vettel organised a kart race for women in Jeddah

“For me, it was important to get to know some of these women,” explains Vettel after renting out a kart track to host a race for local women ahead of Sunday’s Grand Prix in Jeddah.

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F1 | Saudi Arabian GP | Sebastian Vettel organised a kart race for women in Jeddah
Fuente imagen: SebastianVettel.de

Formula 1 will be racing in Saudi Arabia for the first time this weekend, a decision that was heavily criticised given the human rights violations the country is perpetrating.

Both Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel have spoken out against the issue in today’s press conference and the 4-time-world-champion organised a kart race for a group of local women.

"It was really, really exciting," he said. "Obviously, there's been a lot of talk and thought heading into the race here, the first time we race in Saudi Arabia. A lot of questions that have been asked, and I've asked myself, so I was thinking of what I can do.”

"We have so much attention, there's so much focus on negative examples when it comes to shortcomings of certain countries in regards to human rights and other things, but I really tried to think of the positives, so I set up my own karting event under the hashtag 'Race For Women'."

"We had a group of seven or eight girls and women on the track and set up a nice event only for them. I was trying to pass on some of my experiences in life and obviously on track, to do something together, to grow their confidence,” Vettel explained.

Not only an important gesture in a country where laws forbade women from driving until just a few years ago, but also a way to learn more and better understand the reality these women live in.

"Obviously, in Saudi Arabia, women have only been allowed since [2018] to drive a car. So some of them had a licence, others did not. Some of them were huge F1 enthusiasts, others had nothing to do with Formula 1 or racing before today.”

"So it was a good mix of women from different backgrounds and a great event - everybody was extremely happy. I was very inspired by their stories and their background, their positivity about the change in the country.”

"It's true that obviously, if we look from a Western or European lens, there are still lots of things that should be improved and have to be addressed, but it's also true that some things are changing. And for those people, they make a huge difference.”

"So, in the end, it's very difficult for us to come to a country where we spend maybe only a couple of days and try to be a perfect judge by not knowing the background exactly and the people inside out. For me, it was important to get to know some of these women.”

"I think it was a very memorable and inspiring day and a great way to kick off the weekend, and that's the main thing - focusing on the positive."

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