SILVERSTONE, England — Lewis Hamilton said “old voices” from Formula One such as Nelson Piquet’s are irrelevant to what the sport wants to achieve in the future and should not be given a platform to promote discriminatory opinions.
Three-time champion Piquet has been banned from the F1 paddock after he used a racial slur to describe Hamilton in a 2021 podcast that gained media attention this week.
Hamilton said the 69-year-old Brazilian former driver is part of an era and generation F1 is trying to move away from.
“I’ve been on the receiving end of racism, criticism, negativity and archaic narratives, for a long, long time, and undertones of discrimination,” Hamilton said ahead of the British Grand Prix, which he is looking to win for a record-extending ninth time Sunday.
“So there’s nothing really particularly new for me. I think it’s more about the bigger picture. I’m not really sure, I don’t know why we are continuing to give these older voices a platform.
“They’re speaking on our sport and we’re looking to go somewhere completely different, and I don’t think it’s representative of who we are as a sport and where we’re planning to go.
“If we’re looking to grow in the U.S. and other countries, South Africa, and grow our audience and look into the future and give younger people a platform that is more representative of today’s time and who we are trying to be and the direction we are going, it’s not just about one individual, it’s not just about one use of that term — it’s the bigger picture.”
Hamilton, the only Black driver in F1, has frequently been a subject of criticism in the media, with British newspaper the Daily Mail regularly featuring interviews with former drivers such as Jackie Stewart and John Watson and former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone criticising his driving, his fashion sense or his interest in music.
Hamilton later added: “These old voices … whether they’re subconscious or consciously … do not agree people like me should be in a sport like this, do not agree women should be here.
“It’s not helpful, the comments we’ve seen from these people. I don’t think, in the last couple of weeks, I don’t think a day’s gone by where there’s not been someone who’s not been in our sport or relevant for decades, saying negative things or trying to bring me down, but I’m still here, I’m still standing strong.”
Hamilton also called on F1 and other companies around the world to stop relying on scripted responses to examples of racism and abuse and instead respond with meaningful action.
The seven-time world champion has done this himself, pumping millions of pounds of his own money into the Hamilton Commission, which set out a list of recommendations to increase diversity in the sport.
Through his Mission 44 charity he has launched an initiative called Ignite, which this week announced its first grants as a push to bring people from low-income and ethnic minority backgrounds.
“I think we’re just living in a time where there’s a lot of people who have said they’re supportive over the last few years, but a lot of lip service. And we’re not doing that, we’re about action and putting our money where our mouth is. I’m really proud. I think we need to get everyone naturally on board and do something because we can’t do it online,” Hamilton said.
“You’ve got to imagine that everyone’s PR agency have a script ready for something like that, crisis management. It’s not enough. Now it’s about actual real action.”