SILVERSTONE, England — Lewis Hamilton said “old voices” from Formula 1 like Nelson Piquet’s are irrelevant to what the sport wants to achieve in the future and they 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 received media attention this week.
Hamilton said the 69-year-old Brazilian former driver is part of an era and generation of F1 is trying to get away.
“I’ve been on the receiving end of racism, criticism, negativity and archaic stories and undertones of discrimination for a long time,” Hamilton said ahead of the British Grand Prix, which he aims to win for a record-extension ninth time on Sunday.
“So there’s not really anything new to me. I think it’s more about the bigger picture. I’m not really sure, I don’t know why we keep giving these older voices a platform.
“They’re talking about our sport and we want to go to a completely different destination, and I don’t think it’s representative of who we are as a sport and where we want to go.
“If we want to grow in the US 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’re trying to be And the direction we’re going, it’s not just about one person, it’s not about one use of that term – it’s the bigger picture.”
Hamilton, the only black driver in F1 history, has often been the subject of criticism in the media, with the British newspaper the Daily Mail featuring regular interviews with former drivers such as Jackie Stewart and John Watson and former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone who criticize his driving style, his fashion sense or his interest in music.
Hamilton later added: “These old voices…whether unconscious or conscious…disagree that people like me should be in a sport like this, disagree that women are here should be.
“It’s not helpful, the comments we’ve seen from these people. I don’t think the last few weeks, I don’t think a day has gone by that there hasn’t been anyone who hasn’t been in our sport or relevant for decades of negative things said or tried to bring me down, but I’m still here, I’m still 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 by pumping millions of pounds of his own money into the Hamilton Commission, which has drawn up a list of recommendations to increase diversity in the sport.
Through his charity Mission 44, he has launched an initiative called Ignite, which this week announced its first grants as a push to help low-income and ethnic minorities.
“I think we’re just living in a time where a lot of people have said they’re supportive in recent 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 have to naturally get everyone on board and do something because we can’t do it online,” Hamilton said.
“You have to imagine that everyone’s PR agency has a script ready for something like this, crisis management. It’s not enough. Now it’s about actual action.”