SILVERSTONE, England – Lewis Hamilton said “old voices” from Formula One such as Nelson Piquet’s are irrelevant to what the sport wants to achieve going forward and should not be given a platform to express discriminatory opinions.
Three-time champion Piquet has been banned from the F1 paddock after racially insulting Hamilton in a 2021 podcast that drew media attention this week.
Hamilton said the 69-year-old Brazilian is part of an era that generation F1 is trying to move away from.
“I’ve been a victim of racism, criticism, negativity and archaic narratives and undertones of discrimination for a long, long time,” Hamilton said ahead of the British Grand Prix he aims to win for a record-breaking ninth overtime Sunday.
“So there’s nothing really particularly new for me. I think it’s more about the big picture. I’m not sure, I don’t know why we keep giving these older voices a platform.
“They talk about our sport and we want to go somewhere else and I don’t think it’s representative of who we are as a sport and where we want to go.
“As we grow in the US and other countries, South Africa, and want to increase our audience and look to the future and offer younger people a platform that is more representative of the present time and what we are trying to be and the direction we go. It’s not just about one person, it’s not just about one usage of that term – it’s about the big picture.”
The only black driver in Formula 1 history, Hamilton has been the subject of frequent criticism in the media, with Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper regularly featuring interviews with former drivers such as Jackie Stewart and John Watson and former Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone who criticized his driving style. his sense of fashion or his interest in music.
He later added, “These old voices … whether they’re unconscious or conscious … don’t agree that people like me should be in a sport like this, don’t agree that women should be here.
“It’s unhelpful the comments we’ve seen from these people. I don’t think there hasn’t been a day in the past few weeks that there hasn’t been someone who hasn’t been in our sport or relevant in decades, saying negative things or trying to bring me down, but I still am here, I stand still strong.”
Hamilton also called on F1 and other companies around the world to stop relying on ready-made responses to examples of racism and abuse and instead take meaningful action in response.
The seven-time world champion has done so himself, pumping millions of pounds of his own money into the Hamilton Commission, which has drawn up a list of recommendations to increase diversity in sport.
Through his charity Mission 44, he has launched an initiative called Ignite, which this week announced its first grants to bring people from low-income and minority ethnic communities together.
“I think we just live in a time where a lot of people have said they support them in recent years, but a lot of lip service. And we don’t do that, we act and put our money where our mouth is. I’m really proud. I think we obviously have to get everyone on board and do something because we can’t do it online,” Hamilton said.
“You have to imagine that every PR agency has a script ready for this type of crisis management. That is not enough. Now it’s about real action.”