Lewis Hamilton blasted for climate change hypocrisy after Just Stop Oil comments

Oliver Harden
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton speaks to the media after qualifying at the Spanish Grand Prix. Barcelona, June 2023.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton speaks to the media after qualifying at the 2023 Spanish Grand Prix.

One of Britain’s leading sports commentators has criticised Lewis Hamilton for his comments on potential Just Stop Oil protests prior to last weekend’s British Grand Prix.

After climate campaigners invaded the track at the start of last year’s British GP, another interruption at Silverstone was considered likely after similar incidents at snooker, tennis and cricket events across the United Kingdom in recent weeks.

Despite obvious safety concerns given the protest group’s history of entering the field of play, Hamilton admitted ahead of the race weekend that he would “welcome protestors or activists”, claiming that they are “pushing for positive change.”

Lewis Hamilton criticised by respected columnist

He added: “We never want to see people standing on the track and putting themselves in harm’s way. But that sparks conversation, that sparks dialogue and it often helps, sometimes, done the right way – it sparks change. And we need more change.”

As the race edged ever closer Hamilton seemed to backtrack slightly by urging any potential protests to be held away from a live race track.

“We believe in what people are fighting for,” he said. “But safety is key. We don’t want to put them in harm’s way and we don’t want them to put anyone else in harm’s way. If there was to be a protest, we hope it’s not on the track.”

The race weekend came and went without interference but Hamilton’s interjections were not ignored by the widely respected Martin Samuel, who used his column in the Times newspaper to highlight the flaws in the Mercedes driver’s argument after countless protests on Britain’s public roads in recent years.

He wrote: “Lewis Hamilton understands Just Stop Oil’s cause. He also plainly doesn’t mind if they prevent you going about your business, or getting your children to school, going to work, or making that appointment at the hospital, even if you are the one performing the surgery.

“Just as long as they don’t stop those engaged in the important stuff. Like Formula 1 drivers.

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“Charles Darwin might argue that if you stage a slow walking or sit-down protest on a Formula 1 track and are run over by a car, that’s natural selection. The planet has been saved from something, even if it isn’t oil.

“Yet it never ceases to surprise just how green some people are: right up to the moment when it actually starts to affect them.”

Hamilton went on to register his 14th podium finish in 18 starts at Silverstone stretching back to his debut season with McLaren in 2007, but the seven-time World Champion remains without a win since the penultimate round of the 2021 campaign.

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