“I am not saying that everyone is going to take a knee. But over time as we get to talk about it more often I would like to think we will all be together in the understanding of it”
Last Updated: 14/07/20 1:41pm
Lewis Hamilton believes Formula 1’s drivers will become closer through continued discussion about anti-racism topics and taking a knee, even if not all perform the gesture.
F1’s drivers have all collectively stated their desire to fight discrimination and worn anti-racism T-shirts on the grid ahead of the season’s first two grands prix.
But unlike the case in other sports, not all have decided to take a knee.
The drivers have explained their personal stances on the matter, with the GPDA saying they were free to show support in their own way, but the lack of a collective gesture has prompted questions about whether it is diluting the sport’s messaging.
Last Sunday’s gathering at the front of the grid, which was arranged by the drivers, was attended by 16 of the 20, with 12 taking a knee and four standing.
The four drivers present who stood were among the six who did likewise the previous weekend.
Hamilton has said he spoke to some of those who chose not to take a knee at the opening Austrian race last Friday to discuss more about the topic and the impact they can have.
Speaking after his victory in Sunday’s race, Hamilton was quoted by PA Media as saying: “We had the drivers’ briefing on Friday [in Austria], and afterwards we all stayed on and debated whether to take a knee again.
“I said I am going to continue to do it.
“After the Zoom call, I tried to spend one-on-one time with a few of those who had chosen to stand, and to have a chat with them.
“Some of the drivers maybe don’t fully understand how impactful their voices can be to people. Some of them don’t want to support ‘Black Lives Matter’ but they stand for anti-racism, which is the same thing. I have made it clear that I am not supporting the political side but the human rights’ side of things.
“From the drivers’ point of view we are going to come closer through this. I am not saying that everyone is going to take a knee. But over time as we get to talk about it more often I would like to think we will all be together in the understanding of it.”
Hamilton has said that everyone in the sport must continue to do more to drive conversation and change around equality into the long-term beyond the initial plans and messaging as part of We Race As One.
“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 needs taking,” said Hamilton.
“It’s great to… as I said before… to see Chase [Carey, F1’s chairman] being so kind as to donate $1m and it’s great to see the FIA step up and also give me $1m but if you don’t know the problem then you can’t fix it and you know $1m 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.
“For me, as a team, we’re keeping the car black all year long so it is… 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.”
Hamilton applauds F1’s podium first
After taking his first victory of the 2020 season last weekend, Hamilton created powerful images after the race when he performed the anti-racism Black Power salute in both parc ferme and on the podium.
Hamilton was joined in the podium ceremony by Stephanie Travers, the trackside engineer for Mercedes fuel suppliers Petronas, who collected the trophy for the winning constructor and the six-time champion posted on Instagram:
View this post on Instagram
I wanted to post this because it’s such an important moment. This is Stephanie who is one of my teammates. She is one of our trackside fluid engineers. On Sunday, she became the first black woman to stand on the podium in Formula 1 history. This is an amazing achievement and I just wanted to acknowledge her for her hard work, positivity, and passion for her job. Like most of the jobs in our sport they are in high demand, and Stephanie was selected out of over 7000 applicants for her role. Steph said she wants to inspire young black children, and children of colour to believe that they can do it too, and I couldn’t agree more. Put your mind to it, and you can be anything you want to be. So whilst I really appreciate all of the congratulations, I wanted take the opportunity to lift her up, and share them with her. #manifest #hardwork #bethechange
A post shared by Lewis Hamilton (@lewishamilton) on Jul 13, 2020 at 12:57pm PDT
Hamilton’s post-race salute echoed US athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos when they took gold and bronze respectively in the 200m at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico.