Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton has hailed the “positive steps” that have been made in the fight against racism amid the worldwide protests of recent weeks, saying eyes have ‘been opened’ to the issue.
Hamilton – who remains the only black F1 driver – has used his social media channels to make a series of powerful statements in the wake of the murder of George Floyd by a white police officer in Minneapolis, an event that sparked anti-racism protests that spread far beyond America.
The Mercedes driver initially criticised the rest of the F1 fraternity for its silence over the issue, before speaking of the pain and rage he felt over racial injustice, and then giving his full backing to the protestors who pulled down a statue of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol last weekend.
In a new post late on Tuesday night, Hamilton said he also wanted to highlight the progress that was now being made – with governments and major companies joining the public in showing support for the Black Lives Matter movements and attempting to make meaningful change.
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“These past few weeks, we’ve seen the world open its eyes to the realities of racism today,” Hamilton wrote.
“People all over the world have united, and are using their voices and platforms in the fight for racial equality, and against police brutality and white supremacy.
“While we still have a long way to go in addressing the issue, I want to take a moment to appreciate the positive steps that have been taken so far, as a result of our collective voices and actions.
“We’ve seen laws being passed. We’ve seen police officers held accountable and charged for their fatal actions.
“Brands have started to align themselves with the Black Lives Matters movement, and are educating themselves on how they can do better.
“There’s also been a surge in the sale of anti-racist books, and many are watching films and documentaries to better educate themselves on our experience.
“More and more, we are seeing people wanting to learn about black history.
“This is only the beginning and there is still so much change to come.”
F1’s managing director of motorsport Ross Brawn made clear earlier this week that Hamilton’s stance has the full backing of the championship organisers.
Hamilton will return to the track in an F1 car today as he takes over from team-mate Valtteri Bottas for Mercedes’ second day of running at Silverstone in its 2018 car.
It is using the older design – as permitted under F1’s testing restrictions – to practice the new health and safety procedures teams will have to work to when racing resumes in Austria next month after the coronavirus-related delay to the start of the 2020 season.