Lewis Hamilton has expressed his disappointment at teams’ failure to sign a charter designed to improve diversity and inclusion in the sport.
Hamilton, as the only black driver on the grid, has been a strong supporter of improving diversity in F1 and has established his own foundation, Mission 44, aimed at increasing education and opportunities for under represented communities.
As part of his activism and prominence in the sport, Hamilton has been the subject of racist abuse from the likes of Nelson Piquet and has also faced criticism from former head of the sport Bernie Ecclestone for criticising racist comments.
Speaking before the British Grand Prix, Hamilton said he wants to see actions, not just words, and called on teams to sign a charter that would boost inclusion.
“Not to sound like a broken record, but I think accountability is important,” the seven-time World Champion said. “And it’s not just with F1, also with your companies. It’s really making sure we take a stand and we’re giving these people that platform.
“We want people to be able to be themselves in our space and it’s all well and good standing on the grid, and they talk about all the inclusivity, and all the other four or five things, I would say but they’re just empty words, if we’re not actually putting action in.
We are delighted to launch Mission 44 – a new Foundation, founded by @LewisHamilton, to boost social mobility in the U.K.
Our vision is of a fair and inclusive society where all young people can fulfil their potential.
— Mission 44 (@mission44) July 28, 2021
“This is a growing business, there’s more money, teams are making more money than they’ve ever made before and they’ll continue to grow in doing so. I’m not aware of all the other funds that have been put towards diversity and inclusion, but I’d be willing to bet it’s not as much as we firstly already put in and are planning to put in.
“I’ve been on calls with all the F1 teams who all agreed to be a part of this F1 charter and it’s still not signed and it’s still not underway. But no more can we be amplifying these voices that are just creating that divide out there.”
Some of Hamilton’s grid colleagues were alongside him when he made those comments and Pierre Gasly of AlphaTauri said he would be putting pressure on his team to sign the charter.
“That’s obvious to me because we [have] got to be united in a fight and Lewis is the biggest ambassador we have in our sport and it needs to go beyond our sport,” the Frenchman said. “I think just in the society of today we need to set an example to all the people out there.
“I’ll push my team and I’ll do anything that’s possible within our organisation, all of us as drivers, GPDA (Grand Prix Drivers’ Association), anything that’s possible, we need to set example and we cannot let these things happen.”
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc also agreed, stating that everyone needed to be united and “fight this fight together.”
“I think we need to be all in this together and try and help the people that probably doesn’t have a voice, to try and help them in this difficult moment and I think as Formula 1, as such a big sport like Lewis said, it’s expanding every year, we need to be all united and fight this fight together.”
Zhou Guanyu said that he had been the subject of online hate including racist comments, which increased his belief that everyone in the sport should push for equality.
“The world is growing, now more people using social media, you get more trouble also. I got a perfect example, that once I signed the contract last year, and obviously there’s quite a lot negativity, racist comments, which, you know, it never should happen in any part of sports or in the world in general.
“And it’s not just for us as a driver. We’re trying to help the world going forward and it’s not just for us, it’s for the younger generation to set a better example for them.
“So I think everybody should really stay united. [It] equally doesn’t matter where you’re coming from, what job you’re doing. That’s the way we’re trying to build up for this platform in Formula 1.”
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