Lewis Hamilton’s meddling is sheer hypocrisy – Formula One since the days of Max Mosely has rules preventing its participants from making political statements. As recently as last December, the FIA president Jean Todd was called for comment for the inaugural Saudi Arabia GP. Human rights activists were protesting F1 racing in a country with a dubious record on how it treated its citizens.
“Motorsport has not to be used as a political platform. That is absolutely essential,” said Jean Todt. This position was held by his predecessor Max Mosely and has been reiterated by the new incumbent at the FIA Mohamed Ben Sulayem who commented recently that Niki Lauda and Alain Prost only cared about driving.
Ben Sulayem then contrasted the attitudes of the current drivers commenting “Vettel drives a rainbow bicycle, Lewis is passionate about human rights and Norris addresses mental health. Everyone has a right to think.“
Yet the FIA president questions whether it is proper to use a motorsports platform to advance personal beliefs.
“To me, it is about deciding whether we should impose our beliefs in something over the sport all the time.”
Recently when discussing the idea of a driver salary cap, Fernando Alonso claimed: “They are asking more and more from us and they are benefiting from that. So we should be outside from that cap. It’s very complicated.”
Yet if Formula One is using the drivers and paying them to promote the sport, then surely they should avoid making controversial or political statements that may conflict with the host country’s laws or customs.
At the 2022 Canadian GP, Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel was wearing a special helmet design highlighting the environmental impact of Canada’s oil sands mining along with a T-shirt of a similar design.
A politician from Alberta called Vettel a hypocrite given his team has a sponsor Aramco which is considered the world’s biggest polluters. Vettel admitted his hypocrisy and changed his helmet for the race on Sunday.
This week the US Supreme Court made a ruling on a constitutional piece of legislation that Lewis Hamilton lambasted.
The Court overturned a ruling made half a century ago in the Roe v Wade. This historical piece of legislation enshrined abortion as a constitutional right across all 50 states. However, the judges did not abolish abortion, merely refuted that it had been made part of the constitution in a proper manner.
Of course, the result has seen several states tighten the rules for which an abortion can be now approved. Though in a land where free speech is enshrined in its constitution local populations can impose their views on their elected law making representatives.
It’s estimated by The Telegraph today that around half the states will adjust their abortion laws in line with the cultural populations they represent. Yet Lewis Hamilton’s comments will for some be seen as jumping on a “bandwagon” he doesn’t fully understand.
Hamilton took to social media and posted: “Disgusted by the decision made by the Supreme Court in the US today,” said Hamilton.
“I don’t understand why some in power pushed and continue to push to strip rights away from millions of people. This decision will impact the most vulnerable among us. Women, people of colour, members of the LGBTQIA+ community and so on.”
Lewis is also an avid supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement who advocates: “If you’re white, pass the Mic”. In other words, they question how non-whites can talk or meddle in the debate about racism towards blacks.
Does that principle not apply to Lewis ‘the man’? Given Hamilton as yet has not undergone gender realignment as far as has been reported, doesn’t the same principle apply over woman’s rights issues.
Some would therefore accuse Hamilton of hypocrisy as was Vettel.
Further, there are many women in the US who believe that the current abortion laws are too liberal and wish to promote the interests of the unborn child.
With the UK considering banning smoking by parents in front of their children or whilst travelling together in the family car, the view seeking to protect the child from their parents is not new.
If around half of the US states choose to alter their abortion laws this is based upon the democratic views of their populations. Significantly many that have indicated they will do this have large African American populations where abortion is often considered taboo.
The reality for Lewis is Texas is unlikely to ban him from attending the race in Austin because freedom of speech is enshrined i the Federal Constitution. But what happens of China returns to the 2023 calendar?
Will Hamilton be as keen to advocate the rights of the ‘persecuted’ Uighur population and if so will the authoritarian regime take action against him?
If Hamilton refuses to ‘stand with’ the Uighurs, is that because he fears retribution from a totalitarian state? If so then maybe he should consider his disdain for countries where freedom of speech is allowed for him and treat them with more respect.