REIGNING Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton is one of the most vocal sports icons against racism. Almost immediately after a handcuffed George Floyd, Black, died in May while in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Hamilton joined the instant global call decrying racial discrimination.
An elated Hamilton would soon find his fellow 19 F1 drivers supporting his advocacy.
Before that, he posted this: “There are a lot of people that just take a moment to post Blackout Tuesday (on social networks) but they’re not really doing that much. I’ve definitely not heard anything from any of the other teams, as far as I’m aware. I won’t stop pushing until we really see change. Seeing one person of color added to the paddock is not diversity.”
Hamilton is the first, and only, Black competitor in Formula One. And, presently, the best at that.
He attended a “Black Lives Matter” march in his native London to protest Floyd’s death on the knee of a white policeman and is setting up a commission to increase diversity in motorsport.
So passionate is Hamilton about his cause that even the US$1 million dollar donation to his fund by F1 chairman Chase Carey did not impress him that much.
“It’s positive to see that people are reacting, and I do want to see people being more proactive,” Hamilton said, adding that while Carey’s gesture “was inspiring enough, F1 overall should do more to end racism.”
Hamilton, considered the greatest F1 racer of all time, has previously criticized F1 for staying silent on racism, earning a flurry of support from his fellow drivers like Daniel Ricciardo and Charles Leclerc.
Hamilton was ecstatic to see his teammate Valtteri Bottas kneel after winning the recent Austrian GP.
“People perceived that I was targeting drivers. I really wasn’t,” Hamilton, who’s been in F1 for 14 years, said. “People being silent is something I’ve experienced for such a long time, and now is not the time to be silent. This is a time to help spread the message.”
Hamilton also praised his superiors for allowing him to paint his Mercedes car black. Just like my 86. Ahem!