SILVERSTONE (AP) – This weekend’s British Grand Prix offers Lewis Hamilton a chance to make a statement on and off the track after a build-up dominated by how Formula One deals with racism.
Hamilton’s Mercedes team has struggled badly this season but has reason to hope for an improved performance this weekend at Silverstone, where the British driver is an eight-time winner. Unlike the recent races on street circuits, the British track has a smooth surface which could reduce the Mercedes car’s tendency to bounce up and down at speed, causing Hamilton back pain.
Hamilton said the team has done “phenomenal” work on upgrading the car for this week’s race, where he will be looking for a second straight podium finish after coming third at the Canadian GP.
The seven-time F1 champion also spoke out this week about improving F1’s record on diversity and inclusion, especially as drivers across F1 condemned former champion Nelson Piquet for comments in an interview describing Hamilton, the sport’s only Black driver, with a racial term which drivers and teams widely condemned as offensive.
Standings leader Max Verstappen, who is in a relationship with Piquet’s daughter Kelly, said on Thursday that the man he calls his “father-in-law” had used a word that is “very, very offensive” but that he didn’t consider Piquet to be a racist. He added that Piquet’s lifetime paddock access given to former F1 champions should not be revoked.