Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Albert Park, 2019

Hamilton: “Despicable” racism is still very prominent

2019 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton says racist attitudes remain “very prominent” and he is pessimistic about how successfully they are being challenged.

Earlier this week Hamilton spoke up in support of black English soccer players who were subject to racist abuse during a match in Montenegro. “What you faced with the chants was despicable,” he wrote on social media. “Completely unacceptable, no room for this behaviour in any sport.”

Speaking to media in Bahrain today, Hamilton said his concerns about racism applied “not only to the players.”

“It’s just crazy to think that in this time in the world it’s still very, very prominent. It’s really there. All around the world racism is still a real issue. Which is sad to see.

“It doesn’t seem like it’s going to be [changing] much over the next years. It’s great to see people standing by people and support. But I don’t think it’s something that’s going to particularly change for a long time.”

Hamilton hopes he can use his social media following to draw attention to the problem but admits he has been reluctant to address it in the past.

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Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Circuit de Catalunya, 2008
Racists targeted Hamilton during pre-season testing in 2008
“I do happen to have quite an audience, quite a lot of power, particularly with social media,” he said. “There are things that I see all the time.

“There’s a lot of stuff that I don’t post that I want to post. You have to keep a balance because I have all the followers, I have young followers and choosing what you do show and don’t show.

“There’s so many issues around the world still today. There are some things that I’m able to put on social media that people can react to and create conversation. I think many people with the kind of following that have much more real power in making it a talking point and creating opinion and perhaps, hopefully, steering change.”

Hamilton suffered racist abuse from a group of spectators during pre-season testing in 2008. He said his own past experiences of racism taught him it should not go unchallenged.

“I remember being at school and when I was younger, you kind of get a slap on the hand for it and it’s just kind of ‘let it slide’. And I don’t think that should happen anywhere.

“I think action should be taken and being a lot stricter with it. I don’t really have an answer but I think it starts from parents passing it on to kids and it continues on.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
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  • 30 comments on “Hamilton: “Despicable” racism is still very prominent”

    1. I’m no Hammi fan, but he’s right.

      I don’t like him because he acts sulky and entitled … but people hating other people because of the colour of their skin, which make-believe deity they worship, where they were born, what sex they are (or prefer to be with) … is just going to get worse before it gets better, because it’s being fueled by politicians, & people still follow them blindly for some reason.

      1. is it all politicians? chicken/egg? cognitively humans are built a certain way. you cant get rid of bigotry like you cant get rid of love.

      2. Agree. Not a Hamilton fan either, but this is a comment that genuinely and emphatically deals with the matter. Unfortunately, he refers to the Balkan football crowd and I, as a Central European who’s quite close to this region and know the sport culture there, doubt that anything can be done from outside. The region has to deal with it itself and it’s going to take many years. And my apologies to any people from this area who are reading Racefans, I wasn’t of course generalising. Many countries have the same problem and all we can hope for is to eradicate it from the sport.

        1. Agree too. Not an LH fan but he’s right. The way I was raised none of us has a say in the colour of our skin as that is what we were born with. Why should people be marginalized for something they not only shouldn’t have to do anything about but couldn’t possibly anyway? It’s just a skin colour for #%^^* sake. Thank goodness there are also many many people who get that. The vast majority I’d like to think.

          1. tony mansell
            29th March 2019, 9:52

            None of you know him, not even a little bit. But you all certainly feel entitled to tell the world you don’t like him.

          2. Should it matter whether you’re fans of him or not to be willing to say racism is a stain on our society?

            By continually saying, “I’m no fan of his, but…”. Is kinda saying you had no problem with racism prior to him speaking out.

            1. Completly fair & unbiased comments above by people and still some Lewis fans sulk or find a way to try and twist peoples words. If someone doesn’t like him but agrees with his thoughts it means they feel the same way about racism as he does, regardless of anything else. And guys, you don’t know Lewis any more than any of the rest of us.

            2. To Mr G below. Im not a Lewis fan particularly. I like him to win but im not 12 so I don’t have ‘favourites’ . I just like great races.

              If you think people starting sentences with ‘ Im not a fan/I don’t like him’ is unbiased you need to review your dictionary under the word ‘unbiased’

            3. I am not 12, and I am completely capable of disliking certain aspects of a person’s personality without that having anything whatsoever to do with skin colour, since I have never held skin colour against anyone, and since I have encountered others in the past and will encounter others in the future who are not my cup of tea, and that will also have nothing to do with skin colour. You don’t want to believe me? That’s fine. That’s your issue not mine. You don’t know me and are just going to have to trust me.

            4. That’s ironic because you don’t know Lewis yet you are quite happy to judge. I just did about you and it’s not pretty.

    2. yo im of mixed race. it isn’t surprising. it is human nature. you cant make the world safe or fair and not crush the human spirit.

      1. Yeh good point, lets just give up making society fairer.

        1. who said give up on making society better? but how do you legislate or police racial tension out of peoples hearts? im mixed race……there is nothing you can do but live with each other. I see terrible racism from ALL sides. We need to change the MATERIAL conditions of our life that are exasperating racism. We need to do it from WITHING THE COMMUNITIES. DADDY STATE CANT CHANGE THIS WE NEED TO DO IT OURSELVES….IN OUR HEARTS.

          1. Whatever Linus !

    3. Racism is so lazy. If you take the time to get to know someone you can form a meaningful hatred based on their character.

      Seriously though, unfortunately he’s right.

      1. Racism is so lazy. If you take the time to get to know someone you can form a meaningful hatred based on their character.

        @slotopen – nice one :)

      2. Lol. You have to wonder why though, this is still a topic of conversation in 2019. Sometimes I wonder if we’ve really evolved that much at all.

      3. Yeah, you’re right, I’m no racist, I hate everyone equally.

        Accusations of racism are also incredibly lazy, most of the time. No matter how legitimate is you cause against someone, it’s always down to racism, if that someone happens to be non-caucasian.

        I find it symptomatic that we have to go to an incident more than a decade ago (despicable, ok, but mostly harmless anyway) in our quest for martyrdom.

        Racism does exist, but if it didn’t, some folks would make it up just to pose as victims. Which coming from such hugely privileged people, is only laughable.

    4. He’s very right, and the problem is not exclusive to F1, it’s not exclusive to sports, and it’s not exclusive even to racial issues. Bigotry is everywhere, and we must stand strong against it, starting with the places that we most closely deal with.

      1. yes the community must come from within and heal as much as possible. but that aint gonna happen because somebody told them too. people need to learn it themselves. these campaigns only fuel the fire more, when they are so superficial. the communities need to come together, not told to just stop feeling how they feel.

    5. Was this interview about the England vs Montenegro match? Where the Montenegro fans kept making monkey chants towards some of the England players.

    6. he is right (im a vettel fan) racism is very alive, just look at the media the constant witch hunt and vilification of white people and in a higher tone, the white males.

      im a mixed dude with very light skin and black-spanish root(grand parents, so very close) in the caribbean, this is for anybody that might be interested in my background or skin colour after my comment

      1. Its funny (read sad) how it just keeps on swinging left and right without ever settling in the middle isnt it?

      2. Yes, lets compare centuries of systemic oppression with a recent trend of holding white people minimally accountable for their part in maintaining said systemic oppression.

        1. tony mansell
          29th March 2019, 9:53

          So, im accountable for the sins of my fathers?

        2. Yes lets do that. That England game really showed the issue….why call Harry Kane a honkey? He was born white and should not be villified for it.

    7. racism is similar to fear. both produce extremes in some form. sometimes the worst. very sad. as some one just said. its sooo lazy…

    8. Yes compare the people that lived x years ago with currently living and blame them. Going with your logic let’s compare majority of prison inmates in the USA with their corresponding ethnic groups all over the world and blame them. Or to be relevant, let’s blame the Spaniards(currently living ones, including Alonso) for decimating the population of Inca empire(read: Peru and others). This can go on and one and spin the wheel of blame endlessly, as we the people are vicious creatures and have a lot under the belt.

      1. +1. The excessive virtue signalling in this thread is of vomit-inducing quantities as well.

        Not that I disagree with the point he’s making, and it was indefinitely worse for certain race groups in the past, but everyone has a struggle you don’t know about in today’s world, some just love bandying the victim card a lot more than others.

    9. Sadly abuse in football is deemed fine unless race is involved. How about start from an equal footing where players can’t make vile comments to each other, or the fans can’t taunt and abuse players whatever anyone’s skin color. This is a working class sport where not long ago players would try to badly hurt each other and fans kill each other. Take away skin color and the abuse continues. This is what everyone seems to ignore.

    Comments are closed.