Lewis Hamilton criticised Formula One’s “rushed” anti-racism message at the Hungarian Grand Prix and said the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association (GPDA) is not doing enough to promote the message.
F1 has allowed its drivers to come together at the beginning of each race in a show of solidarity against racism. Hamilton, the only Black driver in F1 history and its reigning champion, has worn a “Black Lives Matter” shirt at the opening three races, while all 19 of his rivals have worn shirts saying “End Racism.” A handful of drivers have opted against joining Hamilton in taking a knee before races.
The protest ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix seemed to be poorly organised, with drivers quickly coming together for a moment. It appeared as though drivers were not sure where exactly they should stand on the red carpet laid out in the pit-lane.
Hamilton was joined by Sebastian Vettel and several others in kneeling.
Hamilton said the issue was not even discussed at the Friday meeting of drivers, hosted by the GPDA, of which Vettel and Haas’ Romain Grosjean are directors.
“Well, he doesn’t think it’s important to do it, so,” Hamilton said of Grosjean. “He’s one of them that thinks it was done once [at the Austrian Grand Prix] and that’s all we need to do.
“But so I true to speak to him about what the problem is and it’s not going away and we have to continue to fight for it, but I think this time he didn’t mention anything in the drivers’ briefing and neither did Sebastian, and Sebastian and I messaged each other and he stressed as did I the importance that we continue to do it.
“Moving forward we need to speak to Formula One. They’ve got to do a better job. It was such a rush, us getting out of the car, running over, quickly doing the knee. They need to do more. I don’t know why they’ve only done it for the first race. They did the start; they’ve not done it since then.”
Hamilton, who comfortably won the Hungarian Grand Prix from pole position, said he plans to write to F1 this week to outline his concerns and request more time to make a protest ahead of each race.
“They’ve come out saying they’re going to be fighting for diversity and end racism but they’re not giving us the platform to continue that as it’s not rushed,” he said. “I think they can give us more time, so I’ll probably send an email over the next couple of days, and try and co-ordinate with them to create a better … they do want to do it I guess; there’s not good enough communication.”
Speaking in Ferrari’s Sunday evening news conference, Vettel agreed there was not enough time ahead of Sunday’s race to display the message properly.
“What you see is what the situation is,” Vettel said. “Today was very, very little time, in all fairness, everything was a bit rushed. I think drivers were just about to arrive to do whatever each driver decided to do individually, and then in the end it was starting.
“Going forwards it is probably true that we need to talk amongst ourselves a bit better so hopefully we can sort it out a bit better at the next one.”