Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton is disappointed with the way that former F1 champions Jackie Stewart and Mario Andretti are viewing his push to end racism.
Hamilton is the only black driver in Formula 1 and is the only black driver to win an F1 world title. He has been outspoken against systemic racism in the wake of George Floyd’s death and has worn a shirt that says “Black Lives Matter” ahead of races.
The six-time champion has led driver demonstrations against racism before races and has pushed the FIA to make a stronger stance against racism.
Andretti, 80, said in an interview with a Chilean newspaper last week that he wondered why Hamilton had become so “militant” against racism. Stewart, 81, said that the problem of systemic racism in F1 and racing wasn’t as big of a deal as Hamilton was making it out to be.
The American great also spoke, in comments translated into Spanish, of “creating a problem that doesn’t exist” and added that “in motor racing colour doesn’t matter; you have to win your place with results, and that’s the same for everyone.”.
Triple champion Stewart, 81 and Britain’s most successful driver until Hamilton came along, had told ITV’s Good Morning Britain that he did not think Formula One had as big a problem as it might seem.
As you can imagine, Hamilton responded to both F1 legends’ comments. He said on Instagram in a story on Monday that “this is disappointing but unfortunately a reality that some of the older generation who still have a voice today cannot get out of their own way and acknowledge there is a problem.”
He also said the “ignorance” would not stop him from continuing to speak out.
Hamilton has won 2 of 3 races in 2020
Hamilton is now the F1 points leader after he won in Hungary on Sunday. The victory was his second-straight win after he took the checkered flag at the Styrian Grand Prix. He raised his fist on the podium after winning in Austria and took a knee on the podium after winning in Hungary.
He wrote on Instagram after his victory on Sunday that he wasn’t happy that drivers and teams didn’t make a stand against racism ahead of the race like had been done at both race weekends in Austria.
Today I raced for everyone out there who is pushing to make positive change and fight inequality, however, sadly, as a sport we need to do so much more. It is embarrassing that many teams have not made any public commitment to diversity or that we couldn’t properly find time to make a symbolic gesture in support of ending racism before the race. Today felt rushed and massively lacked organisation and effort, which in turn dilutes the message and makes it seem like there was something more important. It doesn’t matter if you stand or kneel, but we should be showing the world that F1 is united in its commitment to equality and inclusivity. F1 and the FIA need to do more. There is no quick fix for racial inequality, but it is certainly something that we can’t just acknowledge once and then move on. We have to stay focussed [sic], keep highlighting the problem and hold those with the power accountable.
Hamilton’s Mercedes team has painted its cars black for the 2020 season in a show of support for the Black Lives Matter movement. The automaker also said that it needed to do a better job committing to diversity within its workforce as just 3 percent is made up by non-white workers and just 12 percent of its workforce are women.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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