Dubai: There’s a personal side, and then there is a professional side. And six-time defending world champion Lewis Hamilton is trying to balance the two aspects of his sport heading into the third race of the season in Hungary.
The Mercedes driver cruised to a comfortable victory at last week’s Styrian Grand Prix in Austria and then called on Formula 1 and his fellow drivers to stay focused on the sport’s anti-racism stance ahead of Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix.
A number of drivers wanted to stop the pre-race anti-racism gestures, but Hamilton is convinced — both personally and professionally — that some teams are not doing enough to show solidarity with the movement.
“we spoke after the drivers’ briefing this weekend about what we intended to do and some were asking ‘Why do we have to continue to do this?’,” Hamilton said.
The fact remains that there has been some discrepancy among teams and individuals, who are, in fact the face of the teams they represent. The teams and drivers felt that taking a knee once during last week’s Austrian Grand Prix, was enough.
But not so for world champion Hamilton, who led a Mercedes one-two at the weekend’s Styrian Grand Prix as the two Ferraris retired early after colliding on the opening lap.
During the opening week, 14 drivers took a knee and six stood, and at both past races, all of the drivers wore the sport’s ‘End Racism’ T-shirts alongside Hamilton whose shirt also carried the ‘Black Lives Matter’ message.
Hamilton’s Mercedes team all took a knee in the pit-lane and on the grid behind the drivers, but the gesture was not unanimously supported by all involved as it has been in many other major sports.
Not one to give in so easily, Hamilton explained his point of view to reporters via a post-race video news conference last weekend after him spending time explaining the issues to other drivers individually.
And here’s where the British icon is clear of his intent as he weaned away the personal from the professional.
“I’ve made it clear I’m not supporting the political side, I’m supporting the human rights side,” Hamilton stressed.
“I’ve said ‘Guys, I’m going to do it. There were some that said ‘Well, I already did it last week. I’m not doing it again’.
No wonder, Hamilton lifted a clenched fist to mark his victory at the Red Bull Ring after winning last Sunday. And the good thing is that he has the backing of the sport.
“F1 has come forward and said they are supporting ending racism and it is amazing to see Mercedes is also doing that, but no other team has done a single thing,” Hamilton said.
“The Red Bull mechanics have taken a knee, but if you look at Ferrari they have thousands of people working for them, but I have heard no word of Ferrari saying that they hold themselves accountable and what they are going to do in the future. We have to continue to push for equality and raise awareness. For me, personally, it is going to be a lifelong thing.”