Vettel, Norris issue classy responses to Hamilton abuse

Jamie Woodhouse
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, wearing a mask at Silverstone. England, June 2022.

Sebastian Vettel and Lando Norris both expressed their support for Lewis Hamilton, saying Formula 1 has work to do still on inclusivity.

As drivers met with the media ahead of the British Grand Prix, a topic which naturally came to the forefront was Nelson Piquet’s use of a racial slur in reference to Hamilton during an interview towards the end of 2021, although the three-time World Champion denies that it was used with that intention.

Vettel, like Hamilton, is highly active in campaigning and creating projects surrounding social and environmental matters, so the four-time World Champion was asked for his take on what Hamilton has been through over the “last few days”.

In response though, Vettel stressed that this is an issue which goes back far further than recent days, explaining that Formula 1 continues to work to show that it is open to everyone.

“I think it’s more than just the recent days if you are very honest, it is probably what he has been through and his family has been through his entire life,” Vettel told reporters at Silverstone.

“Now, any form of abuse I think, is wrong. So I think it was great to see that there was so much response from all of the F1 community and so quickly people responded and expressed support on the matter towards Lewis.

“We don’t think that there should be any room for these kind of comments, and we still have to do a lot. I think we’ve come a lot further than maybe years ago, but it doesn’t help when there is still these things out there and people still using inappropriate language and saying wrong things.

“So I think it is very important to talk about it and continue to talk about it. Because as I said, it’s not gone and it won’t be gone overnight. That will be great. But it is a bigger matter. And F1 in that regard has a responsibility to carry and address these issues which I think we’re trying to, we have the campaign ‘We Race As One’ which is very clear where we’re going and where we want to go in the future.

“And more than language and things that we are trying to do, I think is how we behave and how we include everyone there is, no matter which colour you are, no matter what type of partner you have, what’s your sexual orientation, so any community is welcome and we should always respond in that way very quickly and make it clear that we are open to anyone because kindness matters, people matter.

“And it was like I said, bad to see what what was going on.”

Lando Norris on the grid. Montreal June 2022.

Norris, Hamilton’s fellow Brit, heaped praise on the words spoken by Vettel and fully endorsed them, adding that for all of the issues which Formula 1 tries to tackle, the “more simple and obvious” ones like these can not be overlooked.

“I think Seb gave a pretty perfect explanation,” said Norris. “Like you said in the beginning, I don’t think this is something Lewis has had just recently or just now you know, it’s something that he has had to live with and deal with for a lot of his career since he started, he said that many times.

“So I think we all know how strong willed [of a] person he is and how he can get through these times and then things like that, because it’s definitely not an easy thing.

“But first of all, I think, again, Seb said there’s no room for these kinds of comments or people bringing these comments to Formula 1 about people, especially on such a public stage. It’s never a nice thing.

“And as Formula 1, we want to be able to always create positive change and although we are Formula 1 drivers and that’s what we love and want to do the most, we still want to make things better in the world and we want to create changes and always good ones. And it highlights that we still need to continue to do this.

“And although we work on different areas, and then different things and climate change and whatever, there’s still like the, you know, the more simple and obvious ones that need to have continued support and continued voices to speak openly about it.

“So yeah, it’s tough. Obviously, everyone feels and supports Lewis as a person and as a driver. I’m sure he’s a strong guy and can get through these times.”