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Formula 1 Australian GP

F1 CEO Domenicali 'arrogant' for not engaging in sportswashing dialogue - UK peer

Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali is accused of “arrogance” and ‘lacking professionalism’ for allegedly not responding to concerns about the championship racing in countries with poor human rights records.

Stefano Domenicali, CEO, Formula 1 at the complimentary cruise give giveaway

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

The assessment comes from UK peer Paul Scriven, a Liberal Democrat, during a House of Lords sports-washing debate held in the chamber on Thursday. He says it was prompted by Domenicali failing to engage.

Scriven is also a vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Groups on Democracy and Human Rights in the Gulf and has repeatedly spoken out against F1 racing and conducting testing in Bahrain.

In the Lords debate, Scriven cited four protesters who he says were “arrested, threatened, verbally abused” after they held a protest near to the Bahrain circuit during the 2023 grand prix.

This came despite Domenicali reassuring that “individuals should be allowed to protest against and criticise our event without intimidation or reprisals”.

It is said these four citizens were then subject to “harassment” in 2024, including the raiding of family houses, police summonses and, in one case, an individual was “tortured and interrogated while blindfolded” in an arrest that was “strategically timed to coincide with the F1 testing… to silence all protest”.

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Photo by: Erik Junius

Scriven says he has contacted F1 - including on two occasions in the past month - over races being held in states with human rights issues and over a “lack of due diligence carried out by F1 on where they race”.

However, after a meeting in 2018, he claims to have not been acknowledged by Domenicali.

Autosport understands that this is disputed by F1, who responded to Scriven as recently as 2023.

Scriven called out F1 CEO Domenicali’s “arrogance, lack of professionalism and non-engagement”, adding “his leadership of F1 is damaging the reputation of his sport, as he refuses to engage with the issues around F1 and human rights.

“He thinks he can just receive the reported £574million from the Bahrain authorities up to 2036 that makes him and his organisation richer, while having nothing to do with the real issues that his sport is helping to cloak in Bahrain.”

While F1 was a major focus of the debate, the state-backed ownership of Premier League football clubs and 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar plus Saudi Arabia backing the LIV golf breakaway and ATP tennis competition were also cited. Scriven also noted the Bahrain sovereign fund’s ownership of McLaren.

In a statement supplied to Autosport, F1 commented: “For decades Formula 1 has worked hard be a positive force everywhere it races, including economic, social, and cultural benefits.

“Sports like Formula 1 are uniquely positioned to cross borders and cultures to bring countries and communities together to share the passion and excitement of incredible competition and achievement.

“We take our responsibilities on rights very seriously and set high ethical standards for counterparties and those in our supply chain, which are enshrined in contracts, and we pay close attention to their adherence.”

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