Lewis Hamilton equalled Michael Schumacher’s record of seven titles in Formula 1 you to enter the pantheon of greats on Sunday. Hamilton matches upward, and sometimes, even exceeds Schumacher with regard to achievements on the monitor.
However, if there is one arena where Hamilton has no competition, it is the work he has done concerning political engagement in a sport that has seldom engaged with life outside its bubble of races, engineers, mechanics, and machines and new building.
Variety in Formula One
Formula One is a game which has historically favoured drivers and teams together with the deepest pockets. The economics of this sport allows for only a select few to enter it. Before he began his dominance in the sport, Lewis Hamilton’s identity one of a larger public audience was of being the first-ever black race car driver in Formula One.
Hamilton, who came from a poor British household and whose parents had to truly struggle because of his career in rushing to become a fact, is the largest anomaly from how Formula One has ever been run. It is, therefore, no surprise that the guy with virtually no company being around the game, has been its main campaigner for bringing in diversity in the sport.
Hamilton’s call for diversity over the years has not just been about there being race car drivers of different ethnicity. In an interview after, Hamilton said,
“There really is the most minimal diversity within this game and I truly wish to be part of shifting that, working in collaboration with Formula One and the FIA. I don’t understand why there is not enough college students, mechanics, engineers and even media coming from more diverse backgrounds.”The answer to his call for action was perfunctory at best.
Formula One boss Corey Chase guaranteed to start up additional avenues for motorists of colour to put in the sport. But the general concept of hiring people of colour was lost among the noise. This was before Hamilton this year ramped up his efforts to bring about modifications in F1 as the Dark Lives Matters movement grew.
One of the most recognisable sports stars in the world and the greatest driver in the sport (in terms of a number of wins) not just wore a Dark Lives Issue T-shirt and took a knee — he got other motorists to join — but also got his German group, Mercedes, to join the effort. The achievement both Mercedes and Hamilton supplied each other helped the Black Lives Matter movement gain prominence in Formula One. And together with Mercedes not needing to let go of their prize driver to other groups, making them ready to go with the changes that the Brit was wanting the team to execute.
It directed to Mercedes racing in 2020 using an all-black livery rather than their customary silver, in a bid to align themselves with the Dark Lives Matter movement. To get a team with cars painted silver and black for decades and known as the Silver Arrows’, moving all-Black, including racing suits and uniforms for the engineers and mechanics, was a substantial step.
“We won’t shy away from out of our flaws in this area, nor from the progress, we must nevertheless make; our livery is our people pledge to take positive actions. We intend to locate and attract the very best talents from the broadest possible range of backgrounds, and to produce credible pathways for them to achieve our sport, so as to build a stronger and more diverse team later on,” stated Mercedes manager Toto Wolff earlier in the calendar year, reiterating the group’s backing of Hamilton’s political stance.
As he chose to wear BLM t-shirts, helmets took a knee as an indication of protest, Mercedes continued to support him.
F1’s lukewarm reply
F1’s lukewarm response regardless of his team backing his stance on being outspoken about the Dark Lives Matters motion, the response from F1’s stakeholders was not as enthusiastic. Hamilton criticised F1’s answer to BLM by stating that it had been too rushed and the organisation wasn’t looking to create any actual, structural shift. “We’ve said things and there have been announcements published and we’ve made gestures such as kneeling but we have not changed anything,” Hamilton said according to a BBC report. “Except for maybe a few of our awareness.”
This made clear when Hamilton continued to wear BLM t-shirts and then talk about the motion after the season opener at Austria, though F1 gave the impression that it had been a one-time perfunctory series of support. Formula One had allocated time before the season opener for motorists to show support for its anti-racism movement but did not do the same for the second and third rounds.
Convincing his peers
The biggest fight for Hamilton in bringing about a change in Formula One has been his own coworkers, that is, the drivers. Last July, Hamilton criticised French driver Romain Grosjean’s (who is a manager of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association) response to the BLM movement and that he thought the Frenchman did not know the gravity of the circumstance.
Six drivers didn’t take a knee in the season opener at Austria. But nobody went as far as former Russian rival Vitaly Petrov, who accused Hamilton of being overzealous’ and that the 35-year old’s political stance in the arena of F1 was too much’. He then went on to compare Hamilton’s BLM stance akin to a gay individual flying a rainbow flag requesting everyone else to become homosexual’. Despite these remarks, Petrov was invited by Formula One to be a racing steward in the Portuguese Grand Prix.
Motorsport good Mario Andretti went up to calling him militant’. In response, Hamilton said the comments were disappointing’.