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Formula One's announcement of a 10-year deal to race in Qatar has been met with concern from human rights groups.
A race at Qatar's Losail International Circuit will take place this November, in place of the cancelled Australian GP, with F1 to return to the Middle Eastern nation from 2023.
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For the first time in the sport's history, four races will be held in the Middle East, after Bahrain hosted the championship opener in March.
Saudi Arabia's first race is scheduled for December 5 and Abu Dhabi ends the season on December 12.
“We are very pleased to welcome Qatar to the Formula 1 calendar this season and for the longer term from 2023,” said F1 President and CEO Stefano Domenicali.
“We have shown that we can continue to adapt and there is huge interest in our sport and the hope from many locations to have a Grand Prix.
“The huge effort from all the teams, F1 and the FIA has made it possible to deliver a 22 race calendar, something that is very impressive during a challenging year and something we can all be proud of.”
— Formula 1 (@F1) September 30, 2021
However that excitement was not shared by Amnesty International, who voiced concerns that wealthy nations were bidding for high profile sporting events to 'rebrand' as nations amid legitimate concerns over human rights abuses.
Qatar will also host the FIFA World Cup in 2022, while F1's races Bahrain during a time of social upheaval in the early 2010s also generated significant controversy.
A spokesperson for Amnesty International said there were significant concerns over the treatment of migrant workers, many of whom were being employed to complete the infrastructure for such major sporting events.
“Qatar’s human rights record is extremely troubling - from the country’s longstanding mistreatment of migrant workers, to its curbs on free speech and its criminalisation of same-sex relations.
“Formula One should insist that all contracts pertaining to this race contain stringent labour standards across all supply chains.”
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In response, said they take their responsibilities 'very seriously' as a sport.
“For decades Formula 1 has worked hard be a positive force everywhere it races, including economic, social, and cultural benefits,” F1 said in a statement.
“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 very seriously and have made our position on rights clear to all our partners and host countries who commit to respect our responsibilities in the way their events are hosted and delivered.”
Despite a number of cancelled races this year the sport is set to complete a record-breaking 22-round season.
Lewis Hamilton heads into the final seven rounds with a five-point advantage over rival Verstappen.
Hamilton became the first Formula One driver to win 100 grands prix with a dramatic rain-assisted victory in Russia that sent the Mercedes driver two points clear in the championship.
Red Bull's Max Verstappen finished an impressive second at Sochi's Olympic Park on Sunday, after starting 20th and last due to engine penalties, thereby limiting the damage from his rival's fifth win of the season and first since July.
Spaniard Carlos Sainz was third for Ferrari on a day of hope and ultimate heartbreak for Lando Norris as a late downpour dashed the young Briton's hopes of a first win.
Norris's McLaren teammate Daniel Ricciardo, fresh from his Italian Grand Prix win, finished fourth.
The 21-year-old Norris had started on pole for the first time in his career, lost out to Sainz at the start but then passed the Spaniard 13 laps later and was still leading when the clouds burst.
Norris decided to stay out on slicks, after Hamilton had stopped for intermediates on team advice, with the top two comfortably clear of the rest.
He then plunged from first to seventh in the last three laps after slipping, sliding off and eventually having to pit.
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