10 times Lewis Hamilton has spoken out against racism during his racing career

10 times Lewis Hamilton has spoken out against racism during his racing career
'It's been a lonely journey' Hamilton and 'the only black family in ...

Lewis Hamilton was first Black driver to win a Formula One driver's world championship back in 2008, and has gone on to win six more titles since then, equal to Michael Schumacher's record.

In his career spanning nearly 30 years, Hamilton has often spent his time off the track speaking up against racism, whether that be within F1, or wider society.

The 37-year-old has also highlighted the lack of diversity in his sport in terms of drivers, engineers in factories and those who work in the garage and has set up an initiative called The Hamilton Commission with the aim to to increase representation of Black people in UK motorsport.

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Most recently, the British Merecedes driver has called on "changing the mindset," and said "archaic mindsets need to change and have no place in our sport," in response to three-time F1 champion Nelson Piquet using a racist slur to refer to him.

Here is a round-up of the different times Hamilton has spoken out against racism during his racing career.


In a 1997 clip from Hamilton's karting days which appeared in the BBC Three documentaryLewis Hamilton: Billion Dollar Man, the subject of racism was broached.

The documentary acknowledged that karting like Formula One is a "white-dominated sport" and noted that as Hamilton began to win the face he was the only Black face on the track "became an issue."

"In the past years, I've had racist names being called to me," a young Hamilton said.

"The first time it happened I felt really upset, I told my mum and dad and I felt like I need to get revenge on them. But lately, if anybody had said anything to me I just ignore them and get them back on the track."

2016- Complex Magazine interview

Back in 2016, Hamilton opened up about experiecing racism growing up with teachers telling him he wouldn't make it as a racing driver.

"I had a lot of racism growing up where I grew up," he told Complex Magazine. "Bullied at school. It definitely encouraged me. It’s like battle wounds—you come out the other side and it just makes you tougher.

"My dad always said, “Do your talking on the track.” So from day one, I always did my talking on the track. “Let your results speak louder than anything you have to say. You don’t have to say anything to these people.”

He also explained how his sport tiptoped around the subject of race.

I’ve been in this sport for a long time now and it’s kind of been like, “Don’t get into that subject. Don’t talk too much about it.” It has always been an issue and for sure people in the limelight are guarded about what they’ve built and created. I see the things that go on and I feel a certain way about it. But [it’s about] making sure if you are saying something, if you’re doing something, it’s for the right reasons in the right way. It’s just hard to strike a balance, I think.

"My sport, it’s a much more predominantly white following and naturally there are people of different ethnicities who don’t know what it’s like to be the other. So it’s just making sure you’re careful with it. But we are on social media, and how we inspire and give knowledge to these young kids through social media, it’s going to shape the future."


In 2018, Hamilton called out the lack of diversity in Formula One and said "nothing's changed" in an Instagram story post before opening race of the new season in Melbourne.

"There is barely any diversity in Formula One," he wrote.

"Still nothing's changed in 11 years I've been here. Kids, people, there are so many jobs in this sport in which anybody, no matter their ethnicity or background, can make it and fit in. #diversity #ucandoit."


During the Euro 2020 qualifying match against Montenegro, England’s Black footballers Danny Rose and Raheem Sterling were subjected to racist chants by some Montenegro fans.

In response, Hamilton tweeted his support to Rose and Sterling where he wrote:

"What you faced with the chants was despicable. Completely unacceptable, no room for this behaviour in any sport," he tweeted.

"Completely unacceptable, no room for this behaviour in any sport. #loveoverhate #silencethehaters."

In the pre-race press conference at the F1 Bahrain Grand Prix, Hamilton said on the matter: "It is really there all around the world and racism is a real issue which is sad to see. It is great to see people standing by each other in support. People need to stand up for it more.

“I remember being at school and you got a slap on the hand for it and it is just allowed to slide. That shouldn’t happen anywhere.

"Action should be taken and we should be a lot stricter with it. It starts from parents passing it on to kids and it continues on.

“It is crazy to think that in this time in the world it is still very, very prominent. It doesn’t seem like it is going to be migrating much over the next years. It is great to see people standing by people in support, but it doesn’t look like something is going to particularly change for a long time.”


A series of Black Lives Matter protests and civil unrest began in 2020, in response to the murder of George Floyd during his arrest by Minneapolis police officers on May 25, 2020.

This led to symbolic gesture such as taking the knee which Hamilton did ahead of every F1 race in 2020 and 2021 seasons. He was also spotted wearing t-shirts saying "Black Lives Matter" and at the Tuscan Grand Prix where he wore one that read: "Arrest The Cops Who Killed Breonna Taylor".

The Mercedes driver posted an in-depth statement on the issue as he described the "anger, sadness and disbelief," at the events that unfolded.

"'I am completely overcome with rage at the sight of such blatant disregard for the lives of our people. The injustice that we are seeing our brothers and sisters face all over the world time and time again is disgusting, and MUST stop," he wrote.

"So many people seem surprised, but to us unfortunately, it is not surprising. Those of us who are black, brown or in between, see it everyday and should not have to feel as though we were born guilty, don’t belong, or fear for our lives based on the colour of our skin."

Later on in June, Hamilton criticised the Formula 1 community for "staying silent" following George Floyd's death.

"I see those of you who are staying silent, some of you the biggest of stars yet you stay silent in the midst of injustice," he wrote.

"Not a sign from anybody in my industry which of course is a white-dominated sport. I'm one of the only people of colour there yet I stand alone.

"I would have thought by now you would see why this happens and say something about it but you can't stand alongside us. Just know I know who you are and I see you."

As a result, a number of F1 drivers then spoke out about the siuation and/or shared their support- including Charles Leclerc, George Russell, Daniel Ricciardo, Lando Norris and Sergio Perez.

In a follow-up post, Hamilton added: "I do not stand with those looting and burning buildings but those who are protesting peacefully. There can be no peace until our so called leaders make change."


In an interview with Wall Street Journal Magazine, Hamilton recalled the horrible experience he had as a 23-year-old racing at Spanish Grand Prix in 2008 where he saw fans turn up in blackface and wore t-shirts that labelled them as part of Hamilton’s family.

“I remember the pain that I felt that day, but I didn’t say anything about it,” Hamilton told the publication. “I didn’t have anyone.

“No one said anything. I saw people continuing in my industry and staying quiet.”


Earlier this year in May, Hamilton appeared Good Morning America ahead of the inaugural Miami Grand Prix where he admitted his F1 career has been "genuinely quite a lonely journey"

"Me and my family were the only black family," Hamilton said. "I've been racing for 29 years, I'm 37 now. But I've been professional for 16 years and always most often being the only person of colour in the room.

"And when I asked the question there was no real great feedback answer to that question so I put together the Hamilton Commission because it starts with education and understanding.


Elsewhere, this month Hamilton gave the best response to three-time F1 champion Nelson Piquet who referred to him using a racist slur during a podcast from last November.

Hamilton broke his silence on the matter and at first, gave a tongue-in-cheek response to a fan who said "What if Lewis Hamilton just tweeted 'Who the f*** is Nelson Piquet?' then closed twitter."

To which the 37-year-old quote tweeted and simply replied: "Imagine."

In a follow-up tweet, Hamilton added: "Let's focus on changing the mindset," and in a third post said in a statement: "It’s more than language. These archaic mindsets need to change and have no place in our sport.

"I’ve been surrounded by these attitudes and targeted my whole life. There has been plenty of time to learn. Time has come for action."

While his fellow F1 driver expressed support for their colleague, Piquet has since apologised to Hamilton - but denies he was intentionally racist.

What I said was ill thought out, and I make no defence for it, but I will clarify that the term used is one that has widely and historically been used colloquially in Brazilian Portuguese as a synonym for ‘guy’ or ‘person’ and was never intended to offend," the 69-year-old said in a statement, The Independentreported.

“I apologise wholeheartedly to anyone that was affected, including Lewis, who is an incredible driver, but the translation in some media that is now circulating on social media is not correct."

The Hamilton Commission and Mission 44

Hamilton set up The Hamilton Commission last year in a bid to "improve the representation of Black people in UK motorsport."

In bid to understand what the barriers Black people face in this industry, 10 months of research was carried out together with the Royal Academy of Engineering.

The report found: "factors within wider society, some of which are systemic in nature, as well as practices within Formula 1 have been identified as contributing towards a situation in which only 1 per cent employees in Formula 1 are from Black backgrounds".

As part of it's 10 recommendation, the F1 teams have been asked to introduce a Diversity and Inclusion charter.

Hamilton has also set up the Mission 44, a new charitable foundation will support social mobility in the UK where he has personally pledged £20m towards this.

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