Lewis Hamilton: Formula One lacks leadership in tackling racism

Lewis Hamilton moved to the top of the world championship – and then accused Formula One of lacking leadership in tackling racism.

Hamilton wore a Black Lives Matter T-shirt and stood in front of an ‘End Racism’ message as he took the knee ahead of Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix.

Hamilton was joined by a number of drivers in performing the gesture, but, as in previous weeks, some stood, and some were late to the pre-race ensemble.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>Hamilton takes the knee beside the trophy (Mark Thompson/Pool via AP)</figcaption>
Hamilton takes the knee beside the trophy (Mark Thompson/Pool via AP)

The split is continuing to prove an embarrassing spectacle for F1 bosses, with Hamilton also moving to single out Grand Prix Drivers’ Association director Romain Grosjean – the Frenchman who races for Haas – for failing to convince the grid to be united.

Grosjean is one of three directors for the organisation alongside Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who did take a knee, and chairman Alex Wurz, a former F1 driver.

“There is definitely not enough support for it,” said Hamilton. “It is like it has gone off the agenda. It is lacking leadership.

“From a drivers’ point of view, many seem to be of the opinion they’ve done it once and they’re not going to do it again.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>Hamilton feels Romain Grosjean (pictured) has failed to unite Formula One drivers (David Davies/PA)</figcaption>
Hamilton feels Romain Grosjean (pictured) has failed to unite Formula One drivers (David Davies/PA)

“We are all members of the GPDA and the GPDA is run by three people – two who are really supportive, and one who tends to think it is not important to continue with.

“I don’t think it’s being taken seriously. There are perhaps people who have not grown up around racism so don’t understand it and because of that it doesn’t affect them.

“I have heard people say ‘it doesn’t do anything for me so why should I do it?’ But it’s not about me and you, it’s about this fight for the people out there who are experiencing discrimination.”

F1 chairman Chase Carey has vowed to put in $1million of his own money to improve diversity in the sport he rules. The FIA has also pledged more than £900,000.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>Chase Carey has pledged $1million of his own money to improve diversity in the sport (David Davies/PA)</figcaption>
Chase Carey has pledged $1million of his own money to improve diversity in the sport (David Davies/PA)

Hamilton said he will speak to F1 bosses and the president of its governing body, Jean Todt, in the hope of bringing the grid together.

He added: “I will get in touch with Formula One this week and I will speak to Jean because no-one else is going to do it.

“We have not made any progress. We have not changed anything. You need a leader. Where is Jean in that scenario?

“It shouldn’t be down to me to call the teams out for not being accountable on the issue. That should come from the top down and the higher powers, who pull the strings.”

Responding to Hamilton’s latest comments, an F1 spokesperson said: “Ending racism and increasing diversity and inclusion in F1 is a clear priority and something everyone supports.

“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 $1m already donated to create apprenticeships and job opportunities for under-represented groups.

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