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Lewis Hamilton blasted for 'love of Bahrain culture' tweet

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain walks out of the Mercedes lounge as he wears the traditional Arab robe ahead of the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain walks out of the Mercedes lounge as he wears the traditional Arab robe ahead of the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

Callum Davis

Lewis Hamilton invited a storm of abuse on Sunday afternoon after the British Formula One driver professed his adoration of Bahrain culture.

The reigning Formula One champion claimed a podium finish in Bahrain, the second race of the year, after starting in pole position.

However it is the Stevenage-born driver's pre-race attire that has since dominated the headlines.

Hamilton, 31, arrived at the Bahrain International circuit in Sakhir dressed in a full white thobe, the traditional attire worn by the Arabic elite.

The Mercedes driver tweeted a picture of himself adrorned in the white robe prior the start of the race, posting "Nothing but love and respect for this culture!"

Hamilton's tweet was pounced upon by a number of users who saw the post as tasteless given the controversy surrounding the Sunni royal family's history of rule.

The Bahrain fixture has been dubbed 'The Race of Blood' after violent protests ahead of the 2011 Grand Prix caused the race to be cancelled.

A number of eagle-eyed followers pointed out that the British driver was sporting a Jesus Christ medallion around his neck, very much in stark contrast to the Muslim culture of Bahrain.

The controversy surrounding Bahrain's human rights record has made the race's place in the Formula One calendar a disputed issue in recent years.

The Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy has written to Jean Todt, president of the FIA, to raise concerns over the Bahrain government's human rights record.

"Since 2011 the government of Bahrain has continued imprisoning and torturing those expressing dissent. It is widely recognised that the government response is characterised by the unlawful use of state violence, injuring hundreds of people," the letter reads.

The race was cancelled in 2011 following a number of violent protests, but was re-instated to the F1 calendar in 2012.

In 2013, anti-government protestors in Bahrain took to the streets in a bid to disrupt the race.

Activists claimed the race was being used by the royal family as a distraction tool to cover-up human rights abuses and gain international recognition.

Despite starting the race in pole position, Hamilton finished the race in third after suffering a collision in the first lap.

Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg beat Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen to claim his fifth chequered flag in as many races.

Lewis Hamilton dropped to ninth on the opening lap after contact with Williams’ Valtteri Bottas, but managed to fight his way through the field to secure a third placed finish.

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