Hamilton claims ‘older voices’ shouldn’t be given platform


The motorsport star was reacting to comments made recently by the likes of Nelson Piquet and Bernie Ecclestone

Seven-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton has suggested that ‘older voices’ who supposedly harbor offensive views and opinions should be refused a platform.

The Brit was reacting to remarks made by fellow former champion Nelson Piquet about him, plus those from ex-F1 chief Bernie Eccleston on Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In comments which surfaced recently, Brazilian Piquet referred to Hamilton as “neguinho” in Portuguese, which means “little black guy” but can be accepted as a racial slur. 

Elsewhere, former F1 leader Ecclestone said on Thursday that he would take a “bullet” for Russian leader Putin, a man he has described as a friend.

Speaking ahead of the British Grand Prix, Hamilton said at a press conference that discrimination is “not something we should be giving a platform.”

“We need people to be bringing people together,” he demanded. 

“We are all the same and the comments we are seeing are not helpful.

“There needs to be some accountability,” the 37-year-old went on. “You know what you’re going to get [with Ecclestone].”

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Bernie Ecclestone refused to criticize Vladimir Putin. © Clive Mason / Getty Images
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“I don’t know what their [the broadcaster’s] goal is,” he said regarding Ecclestone’s ‘Good Morning Britain’ appearance where he praised Putin, somewhat predictably causing heated argument in the UK and beyond. 

“This is going to put us back decades, but we have yet to see the real brunt of the pain. We don’t need to be supporting that anymore.

“There are plenty of people out there who want to be positive. If they don’t want to be positive, don’t give them the space,” Hamilton suggested.

“No more can we be amplifying these voices that are creating that divide.”

READ MORE: Hamilton engulfed in F1 racism row after comments from former champ

Hamilton also spoke in reference to comments made by another former champion, Jackie Stewart, who suggested that Hamilton, currently sixth in the drivers’ standings, should retire.

“These past two weeks I don’t think a day has gone by without one of these people saying negative things or trying to bring me down,” he noted.

“But I’m still here. Lip service is not good enough, we need to push for action. I’ve always tried to take the high road and be respectful. Why do we give these guys a platform?” he again asked.

Hamilton claimed that older figures are “clearly not willing to change.” 

Hamilton was probed on whether he believes that F1 has a racism problem, but said that it is a global issue. 

“These micro-aggressions come out,” he said. “Enough is enough, no-one should have to brush off racism and it shouldn’t be for me to have to brush it off. We need big organizations to take a stand.”

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Lewis Hamilton received widespread support from the F1 community. © Clive Rose / Getty Images
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Piquet’s original comments were made in relation to a collision Hamilton had at Silverstone last season with his daughter Kelly’s partner and current world champion Max Verstappen.

Though Piquet has apologized and claimed that his use of the colloquial term “neguinho” has been translated incorrectly by some media outlets, The British Racing Drivers Club have banned him from attending the British Grand Prix this weekend. 

Addressing the remarks made in an interview last year but only made public this week, Verstappen said that there were “definitely not correct”.

“I am firmly against racism, and that has nothing to do only with Lewis and F1, but in general,” the Belgian stressed.

“For me, everyone is equal and that’s how I grew up. A lot is already heading in the right direction in general with the younger generation. And you just have to understand some words cannot be used anymore. That’s what we have to work on,” he concluded.

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