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F1 driver Lewis Hamilton didn’t hold back on the subject of racism before the Hungarian Grand Prix.
The six-time world champion issued a stinging rebuke to the leaders of Formula One and some of his fellow drivers after the sport’s failure to deliver a coherent anti-racism message before the race, The Guardian newspaper reported.
Hamilton won the race but was highly critical of the lack of progress F1 is making in supporting its stated commitment to tackling racism.
“There definitely is not enough support for it,” he said of the pre-race anti-racism gesture.
“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.”
At the opening race in Austria there was time set aside for the drivers to make a collective gesture; since then it has been a decidedly ad hoc affair, The Guardian reported.
In Budapest the drivers assembled for the national anthem and once more what followed was shambolic and disorganized at best.
Some drivers did not attend, some were late, some did not wear the “End Racism” T-shirts and, again, only some chose to take a knee, The Guardian reported.
Hamilton, F1’s only black driver, believes the issue is being dismissed by some drivers.
“I don’t think it is being taken seriously,” he said. “There are perhaps people who have not grown up around it and don’t understand. There are those that think because of that it doesn’t affect me. I have heard those comments: ‘It doesn’t affect me so why should I do it?’”
He was also disappointed that more was not being achieved and that other teams had not adopted the strong public commitment to diversity that Mercedes have, The Guardian reported.
“We haven’t made any progress,” he said of the sport. “We have said things, statements released and gestures such as kneeling but we have not changed anything except perhaps some of our awareness.”
According to Autosport, Hamilton also revealed that GPDA chairman Romain Grosjean felt there was no need to continue having drivers take a knee, and that it was not raised in the drivers’ briefing on Friday.
“He doesn’t think it is important to do it,” Hamilton said. “He is one that thinks we did it once and that is all we need to do.
“So I tried to speak to him about what the problem is, and it isn’t going away, so we have to continue to fight for it.
“I think this time he didn’t mention anything in the drivers’ briefing and neither did Sebastian [Vettel].
“Sebastian and I messaged each other and he stressed, as I did, the importance to continue to do it.”