Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton has called on Formula One and points his finger at the media to stop giving a platform to “older voices” after an interview last year with three-time world champion Nelson Piquet was published this week in which the Brazilian used a racial slur in reference to Hamilton. The driver also includes Formula 1 teams who have not yet signed up to his charter.
On Wednesday, Nelson Piquet publicly apologised to Lewis Hamilton, but the Brazilian denied that his comment had racial intent and disputed the way it had been translated by the media. However, for Lewis Hamilton the damage has been done and the British driver believes it is now time to act and stop giving voice to people who are out of step with the world today: “I have been the victim of racism and criticism and negativity and archaic narratives for a long, long time, and shades of discrimination,” said Lewis Hamilton at Silverstone on Thursday.
“So there’s nothing really new for me. I think it’s more of an overview. I don’t really know why we keep giving a platform to these older voices. Because they’re talking about our sport, but we’re looking to go somewhere completely different and it’s not representative of who we are as a sport now and where we plan to go.”
“We’re looking to grow in the US and other countries, in South Africa, and we need to look to the future and give young people a platform that is more representative of where we are now and where we are trying to be in the future and where we want to go. It’s not just an individual, it’s not just a use of the term. It’s a bigger picture.
“From now on, we need to take real action. That goes for F1 and the media, we shouldn’t give these people a platform. These old voices, whether they are unconscious or conscious, don’t agree that people like me should be in a sport like this or that women should be here.”
“Discrimination is not something we should be projecting and promoting and giving a platform to create and divide people. In the last two weeks, I don’t think there’s been a single day where someone from the past, who hasn’t been relevant in our sport for decades, has tried to say negative things and started putting me down. But I’m still here and I’m still standing strong [Hamilton is referring to Jackie Stewart’s recent comments about whether the Briton should have stopped his career].”
“It’s all very well standing on the grid and talking about inclusiveness,” Hamilton continued.
“But it’s just empty words if we don’t actually put ourselves into action. This is a growing business. The teams are making more money than they ever have before, and they will continue to grow. I’m not aware of all the other money that’s been invested in D&I [diversity and inclusion]. I’d be willing to bet it’s not as much as we’ve already invested and plan to invest.”
“I’ve had calls with all the F1 teams that have agreed to be part of this F1 charter and they still haven’t signed, and it’s still not happening. We can no longer amplify these voices that only create this division,” insisted the Mercedes driver once again.