Lewis Hamilton calls for more support from F1 in fight against racism

BUDAPEST, Hungary — Lewis Hamilton demanded more support from Formula One’s governing body and urged other drivers to make more of an effort in the fight against racism, after some drivers took a knee and others again did not in disorganized scenes before Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix.

As in the previous two races this season, all drivers were supposed to gather before the national anthem to stand while wearing “End Racism” T-shirts. Hamilton and others, such as his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, took a knee while others appeared to be hurriedly arriving late and not even in position.

It meant that before the drivers were all gathered together as one, the anthem had started and Hamilton and those kneeling had to quickly stand up out of respect for the host country.

“There definitely is not enough support for it. From a driver’s point of view, well many people seem to be of the opinion they’ve done (taken a knee) once and (are) not going to do it again. I don’t know their reasons for that opinion,” Hamilton said after winning the race. “All I could say is we’re not doing nearly enough. I think ultimately it’s still individuals thinking it’s not important.”

Hamilton is a six-time world champion and the only black driver in F1.

“I don’t think it’s being taken serious,” the British driver said. “I think there are perhaps people who have not grown up around (the issue of racism) and don’t understand it.”

But ultimately Hamilton says it’s down to F1’s governing body, the FIA, and F1 to show more assertive leadership in the way soccer leagues in England and Germany have done — as well as the England and West Indies cricket teams — with all players united in taking a knee against racism before games.

“It’s not good enough, in terms of what you see in other sports. It’s almost like it’s gone off the agenda,” Hamilton said. “It’s lacking leadership and ultimately there needs to be leadership from the top. Currently there is none of that.”

Hamilton pledged to personally contact FIA president Jean Todt this week to seek an improvement in the way the anti-racism message is being co-ordinated at the very top.

Todt was present at Sunday’s race.

“I will get in touch with Formula One this week, I will speak to Jean because no one else is going to do it,” Hamilton said. “I think we need a leader. Where is Jean in that scenario?”

Hamilton, who has previously called out other teams for not doing enough to send a strong message out against racism, does not think it should be only left to him to keep pushing others.

“It shouldn’t be for me to have to call the teams (and) say `Hey, what are you doing? What’s your plan?’” Hamilton said. “That should be announced or discussed from the top down, that should be coming from the higher powers that control (the sport) and pull the strings.”

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