Lewis Hamilton: Uncomfortable questions will not go away for F1 until it gets its anti-racism message in order

Hamilton’s stance against racism has attracted criticism from former world champion Mario Andretti and Sir Jackie Stewart despite the sport accepting itself that it has a problem with diversity

Lewis Hamilton wins F1 Hungarian Grand Prix

There was more than a sense of Groundhog Day on Sunday as Lewis Hamilton powered to one of the most dominant victories of his Formula One career. Few things are as predictable in F1 as a Hamilton victory in Hungary, having now secured eight wins in Budapest since his debut in 2007.

But for the 16th time in his career, Hamilton secured pole position, race victory and fastest lap, with Michael Schumacher the only man ahead of him having achieved the clean sweep 22 times.

Eighty-six times in his life, Hamilton has woken up on Monday morning asking himself if the victory the day before was a dream. How the other drivers on the grid will have wished for exactly that, as if the six-time world champion is able to deliver the performance levels that he achieved last weekend throughout this season, the championship battle is already over.

But the feeling that he had been here before was not quite exactly that for Hamilton. Instead, he spent the morning reading comments from former world champions Mario Andretti and Sir Jackie Stewart, both of which have given their opinion on the current battle for racial inequality within the sport.

“I respect Lewis very much, but why become a militant?” Andretti told Chilean newspaper El Mercurio.

“He has always been accepted and earned the respect of the whole world. I think the goal of this is pretentious. So I feel it and he is creating a problem that does not exist."

Stewart was not as critical of Hamilton’s character, but did say that “he's quite vocal about these elements, (but) I don't think there's as big a problem as there might seem”.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and Andretti can find Hamilton as pretentious as he wants, but when the sport itself says that they accept there is a problem, why do people continue to say there isn’t?

F1 chief executive Chase Carey has ploughed $1m of his own money into a new foundation to increase under-represented groups in motorsport, while the FIA are doing similar with a €900,000 donation. Hamilton himself has launched the Hamilton Commission, which will look to open up avenues to Black, Asian and Mixed Ethnicity (Bame) individuals to get them into the sport to help diversify what remains white male-dominated sport.

It follows Bernie Ecclestone’s unacceptable comments regarding racism in Formula One before the start of the season, as well as the uncomfortable sight of a handful of drivers including Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc who refuse to take a knee due to their personal feelings around the gesture.

Hamilton's dominant win in Hungary was overshadowed by the failure to get the anti-racism message right 

Once more, Hamilton used his platform to speak out, but this time there felt like a bit more bite in his comments. It’s clear to the naked eye that Hamilton’s patience is running thin with the sport’s failure to get their anti-racism message correct, and that sadly cast a shadow over what should have been talk of one of his most supreme victories to date.

“Today I raced for everyone out there who is pushing to make positive change and fight inequality, however, sadly, as a sport we need to do so much more,” Hamilton wrote on Instagram.

“It is embarrassing that many teams have not made any public commitment to diversity or that we couldn’t properly find time to make a symbolic gesture in support of ending racism before the race. Today felt rushed and massively lacked organisation and effort, which in turn dilutes the message and makes it seem like there was something more important.

“It doesn’t matter if you stand or kneel, but we should be showing the world that F1 is united in its commitment to equality and inclusivity. F1 and the FIA need to do more. There is no quick fix for racial inequality, but it is certainly something that we can’t just acknowledge once and then move on. We have to stay focussed, keep highlighting the problem and hold those with the power accountable.”

Many of Hamilton’s critics ask why we can’t just talk about the racing, yet unless Formula One is able to get it house in order to show it is taking the anti-racism campaign seriously, these uncomfortable questions should not and will not go away.

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