Dubai: Six-time F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton is at odds with the management of the sport - saying that their ‘We Race As One’ campaign has made no progress since its pre-season launch. His sharp criticism after winning Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix to go top of the drivers’ championship after three races prompted the F1 management to issue a rebuttal late on Sunday.
Following another hurried and shambolic pre-race anti-racism ceremony, during which several drivers took a knee while others stood, arrived late or remained absent, Hamilton - the only black driver in the circuit - said he would write to Formula One chief Chase Carey and the president of ruling body the International Motoring Federation Jean Todt.
“F1 and the FIA need to do more. There is no quick fix for racial inequality, but it is certainly something that we can’t just acknowledge once and then move on. We have to stay focussed, keep highlighting the problem, and hold those with the power accountable,” he added.
“Moving forward, we need to speak to Formula One,” said Hamilton “They’ve got to do a better job. It was such a rush, us getting out of the car, running over, quickly doing the knee. They need to do more.
I don’t know why they’ve (F1 and FIA) only done it for the first race. They did it at the start, but they’ve not done it since then. They’ve come out saying they’re going to be fighting for diversity and end racism, but they’re not giving us the platform to continue that
“I don’t know why they’ve only done it for the first race. They did it at the start, but they’ve not done it since then. They’ve come out saying they’re going to be fighting for diversity and end racism, but they’re not giving us the platform to continue that.”
Referring to the muddled support for ‘taking a knee’ during the pre-race routine, he added: “There definitely is not enough support for it.
“Many drivers seem to be of the opinion that they have done it once and are not going to do it again. It’s almost like it has gone off the agenda. It’s lacking leadership. There needs to be leadership from the top.”
Formula One responded overnight with a statement: “Ending racism and increasing diversity and inclusion in F1 is a clear priority.
“We set out our plans for diversity and inclusion last November and have in recent weeks announced additional plans to create a Taskforce to tackle these issues and a foundation with over $1 million already donated to create apprenticeships and job opportunities for under represented groups.
“We want to make lasting change and are acting to do this.”
The initial $1 million dollars was provided personally by Carey with Todt pledging that the FIA will add a further one million euros (1.15 million).
On Sunday, the ceremony that had been organised on the grid prior to the national anthem at the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix was switched to the ‘parc fermee’ in the pit lane and received only brief television coverage.
Meanwhile, as Hamilton leads the championship after three races, his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas already looks like the only man who can deny the Briton a record-equalling seventh title.
That at least is the view of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc, whose own hopes of building on last year’s challenge have melted away.
Asked whether they could see a scenario where Hamilton might not be champion at the end of the year, Vettel and Leclerc agreed it was unlikely.
“I think (only) if Valtteri wins the championship,” said the German, himself a four-times world champion.
“I think Lewis is obviously the main contender,” added Leclerc. “The only one that could probably stop him doing that is Valtteri.”
Mercedes, winners of the past six drivers’ and constructors’ championships, have started 2020 with three wins and three poles and are 66 points clear of closest rivals Red Bull.