Hamilton calls for F1, teams to do more on diversity
Lewis Hamilton has renewed calls to everyone involved in Formula 1 to do more to support the cause of diversity and to tackle racism around the world.
Hamilton has been at the forefront of recent shows of support for Black Lives Matter, and he ‘took the knee’ before both races in Austria to show his own support and to help raise awareness of the issue.
While other drivers have also added their backing and worn “End Racism” T-shirts for the pre-race anthem proceedings, not every one took the knee at the Red Bull Ring.
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AlphaTauri’s Daniil Kvyat was among those who declined, saying that it was against his culture as a Russian: “I would say my mentality, and in my country, doesn’t allow me to go on my knee. It’s only for very particular reasons.”
And while Hamilton’s own Mercedes squad including team mate Valtteri Bottas have enthusiastically supported him and introduced an all-black livery for this year’s car, the reigning world champion remains disappointed by the ambivalent attitude elsewhere on pit lane.
“No other team has said a single thing,” he told the media including The Guardian newspaper after the race. “We’ve seen Red Bull’s mechanics take a knee, which is great.
“But publicly, as businesses and as teams, you look at Ferrari, who have thousands of people working with them – I’ve heard no word from Ferrari saying they hold themselves accountable.
“We need the teams to do that, everyone needs to pull together,” he stressed, adding that it went beyond just the drivers and teams and needed more active measures from the sport itself.
“We need Formula 1 and the FIA to be more leading in those scenarios, saying, ‘Hey guys, all of us together, everyone needs to pull together and fight for this so we can improve’.
“I think we’ve really got to think as a sport what we can do because of course those are nice signs but passion is needed.
“It’s great to to see Chase [Carey, F1 CEO] being so kind as to donate $1 million, and it’s great to see the FIA to step up and also give me a million, but if you don’t know the problem then you can’t fix it.
“You know $1 million doesn’t really go that far, so a lot of work needs to go on with Formula 1. The FIA do really need to be a part of it, and I think the drivers need to be a part of it also as we have great voices and platforms.”
Hamilton stirred controversy on Sunday by giving a black power salute on the podium after winning the Styrian Grand Prix. However he insisted that did not intend this to mean he was “supporting the political side of things”.
As well as promoting the cause of anti-racism at the race track, Hamilton has also set up a commission in partnership with the Royal Academy of Engineering looking into ways to encourage young black people into motor racing and engineering.
“A lot of people don’t know what the problem is and some people deny there is a problem,” he said. “That is why I have put this commission together.
“Everyone has their opinion, but I really want to get to the bottom of it so when we put money towards something, we know it is going to change from the root cause.”
And Hamilton insisted that he was in this for the long haul and not for short term fixes.
“I am learning, just as all of you are,” he acknowledged. “Us taking a knee at the start of the race and having a black car, that doesn’t solve the problem.
“It helps continue raise awareness of it. We have a whole season for [the black livery]. A whole year – and in my mind, this is a constant fight we all have to do,” he said. “We can all chip in and do our part and our job and have a positive impact in our environments.”
But he admitted that other drivers weren’t quite as committed.
“This weekend the drivers spoke after the drivers’ briefing about what we intended to do,” he told the official FIA post-race press-conference. “Some people were asking how do we have to continue to do this?
“Some felt once was enough last week and I just had to encourage them that racism is here, going to be here for probably longer than our time here, and people of colour who are subject to racism don’t have time to take a moment to protest and that be it.
“We’ve got to continue to push for equality and really to raise awareness of it so I don’t really know what else we can do moving forward.
“But for me, to have Valtteri and my team also lining and acknowledging and kneeling before the start of the race I think was really huge, and I’m incredibly grateful for their understanding and this contribution to it.
“We’re going to be fighting and pushing for it all year. And me personally, I think this is going to be a lifelong thing for me.”
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