SILVERSTONE, England – Lewis Hamilton said on Thursday that Formula 1 should ignore “old voices” and reject racism as it focuses on becoming more inclusive.
Hamilton, the seven-time F1 champion and only black driver, was reacting to comments made last year by three-time champion Nelson Piquet referring to Hamilton as a racial term. The word in question was brought to attention this week.
Former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone, 91, defended Piquet on Britain’s ‘Good Morning Britain’ TV show on Thursday and said he was surprised Hamilton hadn’t “put him next to”. Ecclestone, who controlled F1 for decades before stepping down in 2017, also voiced his support for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, saying: “I would always take a bullet for (Putin). “
Hamilton and the rest of the F1 paddock are in Britain this week preparing for Sunday’s British Grand Prix. Hamilton, who was born in Stevenage, England, has won the British GP eight times.
STAKE:Apologizes to Hamilton for using racial term
“I don’t know why we keep giving a platform to these older voices because they’re talking about our sport and we’re looking to go to a completely different place. And that’s not representative, I think, of who we are as a sport now and where we plan to go,” Hamilton said, without mentioning either Piquet or Ecclestone by name.
“These old voices are, you know, whether subconsciously or consciously disagree that people like me, for example, should be in a sport like this, disagree that women should be here,” Hamilton said.
In an apparent response to Ecclestone’s comments, Hamilton added: “No one should have to sweep racism away, and it shouldn’t be up to me to sweep it away.”
Formula 1 issued a statement following Ecclestone’s remarks on Thursday: “Bernie Ecclestone’s comments are his personal views and stand in stark contrast to (the) modern values position of our sport.”
“THE TIME HAS COME TO ACT”:Hamilton and Formula 1 respond to racist comments
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Hamilton said he wanted F1 to do more to broaden the diversity and inclusiveness of the sport. Hamilton is working with her Mercedes team to fund projects to promote greater female participation in motor racing and engineering scholarships for black students with a focus on motor racing. They announced the first grants on Thursday.
Piquet was suspended on Thursday from his honorary membership of the British Racing Drivers’ Club, which owns and operates the Silverstone track used for this week’s Grand Prix.
The BRDC said Piquet’s use of “racially offensive language to describe another BRDC member is unacceptable and represents completely inappropriate conduct for an honorary BRDC member, despite his subsequent apology.” The BRDC added that its board was due to cancel Piquet’s membership at an upcoming meeting.
On Wednesday, Piquet apologized to Hamilton but said the term, while “badly thought out”, was not meant to be offensive.
Piquet used the term three times while discussing an accident between Hamilton and Max Verstappen at last year’s British Grand Prix. His daughter Kelly Piquet is Verstappen’s girlfriend.
Even without Piquet’s comments, this week’s British Grand Prix would have put more focus on the often bitter rivalry between Hamilton and Verstappen last year. Verstappen crashed into the wall and was taken to hospital for observations, while Hamilton went on to win despite a penalty.
Hamilton faced racist abuse on social media after the race.
Piquet’s remarks were widely condemned by F1 management, the FIA governing body and many drivers.
Ecclestone, who has previously come under fire from Hamilton for his comments about racism and diversity in F1, said Piquet’s closeness to Verstappen could explain his comments.
“Knowing Nelson as I know him, as his daughter is Max Verstappen’s girlfriend, probably after seeing the crash…he probably exploded then and sort of chased that,” Ecclestone said in comments. comments on the British television program ‘Good Morning Britain’. ”