Formula One is first and foremost a sport. A pursuit for speed – A symbiosis of human and machine.
Its second function is to provide an environment that pushes engineering excellence. Engineering
The Formula One circus has arrived in Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan. It’s within this city that 18 political prisoners are being detained for speaking out against a tyrannical government that openly clamps down on the freedom of expression; a government that has cut wages in the public sector significantly so that it can host major sporting events like the race this weekend, the European Games last June and four of the Euro 2020 football matches in the next tournament.
Amnesty International’s director of campaigns Kerry Moscogiuri said,
The arrival of Formula One in Baku must not steer attention away from the Azerbaijani authorities’ human rights crackdown. Behind the glitz the authorities are locking up their critics, have shut down NGOs and arrested or harassed their leaders.
The recent release of some of those jailed on trumped-up charges should not fool anyone into thinking that the wind in Baku is blowing in a different direction. Azerbaijan has courted big international sports events to improve its image abroad and the Grand Prix is no different. While the world’s fastest drivers take to the streets of Baku in this spectacle of speed, there are many who will not be able to enjoy the show.
F1 is in pole position to influence positive change in Azerbaijan. We would like to see them publicly urge President Aliyev to end this crackdown and free all prisoners of conscience.
Bernie Ecclestone has a clear choice. He can say nothing and gain nothing, therefore help nobody. This route ignores the younger, more global audience that he’s failed to acknowledge in other areas anyway. This route also shows him without tact, a man out of touch who doesn’t realize the impact his own sport can have.
The other option is the one he should take – denounce the Azerbaijani government and give the human rights campaigns that Amnesty are pushing a bigger audience. He can use his position for a positive change (for a f**king change). Seems like an obvious choice to me, but it is Bernie. He will be judged.