FORMULA One champion Lewis Hamilton has single-handedly brought the sport into disrepute for its previously indifferent attitude to racism.

Hamilton, 35, called for all twenty F1 drivers to wear T-shirts saying “End Racism” before the recent Austrian Grand Prix. An earlier meeting met with unanimous support for the initiative.

However six of the drivers did not take the knee during the F1 moment of silence before the race. They included Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

There are those who oppose the infusion of political agendas into sport. Others welcome it.

“I will not take the knee but this does not mean at all that I am less committed than others in the fight against racism,” Leclerc said.

Hamilton regarded this as a minor obstacle. “It’s still a really powerful message but whether or not you kneel is not going to change the world.”

An understanding Hamilton later said “everyone has the right to their own personal choice and that was what I felt was the right to do.”

The gesture originated with NFL San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick who knelt on a bent knee during the national anthem in 2016. To emphasise issues regarding racial inequality.

There are many who believe Kaepernick has since been vindicated, especially since the death of George Floyd and ongoing civil unrest in the United States and around the world.

Hamilton and Kaepernick spoke on the matter two years ago, with Hamilton prepared to race in a helmet reflecting his support in a race in the US.

He decided against doing so, apparently pressured by external forces with political ramifications such as problems with US immigration in the future.

A decision Hamilton has since regretted.

Moreover, the Mercedes team has changed the colour of their cars from silver to black as support for anti-racism and diversity in the sport.

Hamilton believes the message should be promoted at every opportunity. Still, he sought to clarify his support for “Black Lives Matter” as a moral initiative, verses the political organisation.

“When I wear the shirt, that is what I am supporting, I am not necessarily supporting the political movement. That is something completely different so it is important to try to keep them separate,” he added

Earlier, Hamilton announced his goal to set up a commission in his name, to increase diversity in motorsport.

The “Hamilton Commission” was tasked to make “real, tangible and measureable change.”

The commission would explore innovative ways “to engage more young people from black backgrounds with science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects.”

“It is not enough to point to me, or to a single black hire, as a meaningful example of progress,” he opined.

He wanted motorsport to “become diverse as the complex and multicultural world we live in.”

This is a view apparently not supported by previous F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone.

Ecclestone, 89, had earlier stated to CNN that “in lots of cases, black people are more racist than what white people are.”

Ecclestone also said that Hamilton’s initiative would not “do anything bad or good in Formula One, it’ll just make people think, which is more important.”

This drew a rebuke from Hamilton, who said the comments were “sad and disappointing.”

“If someone who has run the sport for decades has such a lack of understanding of the deep-rooted issues we as black people deal with every day, how can we expect all the people who work under him to understand? It starts at the top,” Hamilton added.

Hamilton asserted that he has been subjected to some form of racism throughout his career, including when fans turned up in black face at a circuit in 2007.

Ecclestone said he did not know of Hamilton’s racist abuse, “never needed” to discuss it, and “I’m surprised that it concerns him even.”

The F1 organisation, for its part, was quick to reject Ecclestone’s remarks, saying they “have no place in F1 society.”

They have since launched an “Equality and Diversity” taskforce to increase opportunity in minority groups.

They could do well to support the Ludo Aequitas movement and its mission to promote mental health and equality through sport.

We have our own unique “Ludo Creed” and “Do The Ludo” behaviour as a way of unifying disaffected sections of society.

All without the political agendas.

Ludo Aequitas – Equality Through Sport – welcomes your views.

 

Images via The Sun

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