Hamilton calls out rival teams for being silent on racism

SPIELBERG (AP) – Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton called out rival teams on Thursday for not doing enough to combat racism, and said the sport still needs to push for more diversity.

Hamilton has spoken widely about racism in recent weeks following the killing of George Floyd – a handcuffed and unarmed Black man – by a police officer in Minneapolis in May.

And Hamilton’s Mercedes team will be competing in an all-black car – instead of the usual silver – as a statement against racism when the season starts on Sunday in Austria.

But Hamilton, the only Black driver in F1, said he’d like to hear more from other teams – and criticised some sports figures for only jumping on social media bandwagons instead of pushing for real change.

“There are a lot of people that just take a moment to post Blackout Tuesday (on social networks) but they’re not really doing much. I’ve definitely not heard anything from any of the other teams, as far as I’m aware,” Hamilton said. “I won’t stop pushing until we really see change. Seeing one person of colour added to the paddock is not diversity, so we’ve really got to dig deep.”

Hamilton attended a Black Lives Matter march in London recently and is setting up a commission to increase diversity in motorsport.F1 launched an initiative aimed at tackling racism and encouraging more diversity within the series, with F1 chairman Chase Carey pledged USD1 million of his money toward a fund.

“It’s positive to see that people are reacting and I do want to see people being more proactive,” Hamilton said. “I think Formula One have been great. I’ve spent a lot of time on the phone with them, doing Zoom calls talking about their plans and how we can move forwards, united.”

F1 drivers are discussing whether to take the knee together on the grid before tomorrow’s race in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, as football players have been doing.

Mercedes’ British driver Lewis Hamilton steers his car during the first practice session at the Austrian Formula One Grand Prix. PHOTO: AFP