Lewis Hamilton ‘a bit on his own now’ speaking out after Sebastian Vettel retirement

Jamie Woodhouse
Lewis Hamilton sits in the press conference. Jeddah March 2023.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton contemplates during the pre-race press conference. Saudi Arabia March 2023.

Journalist, and most recently Aston Martin’s communications chief, Matt Bishop would like to see a new voice join Lewis Hamilton in speaking out now that Sebastian Vettel has retired from the series.

Together Hamilton and Vettel took it upon themselves to use their platforms as two of Formula 1’s greats to speak out and raise awareness on issues close to them, Hamilton often focusing on diversity and equality, while social and environmental topics were Vettel’s key points of focus.

Now, with Vettel no longer on the scene, it means Hamilton has a big piece missing from this particular puzzle, the Brit having vowed to continue speaking out even though new rules from the FIA have put limitations on this.

And Bishop hopes that another driver can step up and “fill the void that Sebastian has vacated”, so that Hamilton is not left a long ranger on the grid.

Bishop worked with Vettel at Aston Martin when he led the team’s communications department, and also worked alongside Hamilton at McLaren in a similar position, McLaren at that time having Formula 1’s only black driver in Hamilton, and the only openly gay man in a senior F1 team role in Bishop.

Asked by Sky Sports F1 how effectively the Hamilton-Vettel alliance functioned, Bishop replied: “He absolutely saw Lewis as someone who he could confide in, who he could seek counsel from, and I think it was mutual. I think they both saw each other as someone who gets it in the same way.

“Look, I’m not trying to criticise any of the other drivers by the way, I’ve worked with many of them and it takes all sorts to make a world. But, I suppose I would now like some of the other drivers to consider whether they could perhaps fill the void that Sebastian has vacated or created. Because Lewis is a tiny bit on his own now.”

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Recently three-time Formula 1 World Champion Nelson Piquet was fined 5,000,000 Brazilian Reals (£780,000) in ‘moral damages’ over past racist and homophobic comments he made about Hamilton.

The case was brought about by human rights groups, including Brazil’s LGBTQ+ Alliance, so Bishop was asked whether he found it disappointing that it took the efforts of these groups to make it so there was any case at all.

Bishop, though, said that what really matters is that this wrong was put right, and he hopes the hefty fine will serve as a future deterrent.

“The most important thing is that in Brazil, that wrong was righted,” said Bishop. “And I know he’s got to pay a big fine. I assume he can afford it.

“And I do hope, which presumably was the objective, that it will deter other people from speaking in such an appalling way going forward.”