Lewis Hamilton says other teams in Formula 1 and the sport’s governing body the FIA need to do more in the fight against racism after a disjointed protest at the Styrian Grand Prix.
Mercedes has changed its livery to an all-black base from its traditional silver this year as part of a pledge to increase diversity and inclusivity in its team. Hamilton’s victory on Sunday was also followed by Mercedes sending Petronas trackside engineer Stephanie Travers to the podium as the team’s representative to pick up the winning constructors’ trophy, making her the first Black woman to stand on an F1 podium as a team member or driver. While Hamilton is pleased with his team’s public statements, he says plenty of others in the sport have not stated a need to change.
“I think ultimately Formula 1, yes they’ve taken a step forward, but there’s absolutely more they can do,” Hamilton said. “And I think the governing body also, who set the rules, who dictate in many ways what these teams do. I asked on a call we had on Zoom, I said ‘look, at the moment F1 has come forward and said they’re supporting end racism’ and it’s amazing to see Mercedes doing the same thing, but no other team has said a single thing.
“We’ve seen Red Bull mechanics take a knee, which is great, but publicly as businesses and as teams, if you look at Ferrari ,who have thousands of people working with them, I’ve heard no word of Ferrari saying that they hold themselves accountable and this is what they’re going to do for their future. We need the teams to do that, and we need Formula 1 and the FIA to be more leading in those scenarios, saying, ‘hey guys, all of us together, everyone needs to pull together and fight for this so we can improve’.
“I think a lot of people don’t know what the problem is. Some people deny there is a problem. That’s why I’ve put this commission together, because everyone has their opinion, but I really want to get to the bottom of it so when we’re putting money into something we know it’s going to change it from the root cause, and that’s the goal.”
Hamilton’s comments come after a number of drivers missed a second protest ahead of the start of Sunday’s race, during which many took a knee in a somewhat disjointed moment that was only shown for a few seconds on television before the director cut to a pre-race air display. Hamilton says the drivers have been openly discussing the situation, but attributed the lack of cohesion to a tighter pre-race schedule than before the opening race in Austria.
“Before the first race, I had been on several Zoom calls with the heads of Formula 1 and together we had come up with a plan that this is what we were going to do at the start of the first race. There wasn’t a follow-up and none of us were contacted, so there wasn’t a plan to do it again, for whatever reason.
“But when the drivers did the briefing on a Zoom chat, and we stay on afterwards, we had this debate of whether we were going to do this again. I said, ‘well guys I am going to continue to do it’. There were some who were like ‘well I already did it last week, I am not doing it again’. There are some who continued to have the same approach as they had the first week and that’s why I tried to spend a bit of time with those who had chosen to stand, just to have a chat.
“From a drivers’ point of view we are going to come closer during this period of time, but I am not saying everyone will take a knee. But I think we will talk about it more often, and I would like to think that at some stage we will all be together understanding taking the knee.
“But (on Sunday), it was because we planned it and it wasn’t in the FIA schedule, so it was all a rush. We were supposed to be there at 2:45 – I was there at 2:50 and the guys were coming from much further back, so we just got on with it. Some did try to get there, but it was too late. Moving forward, we would try to do a better job if we are to do the same thing, but it is not my choice.”