Lewis Hamilton said Thursday that Formula One should ignore “old voices” and reject racism as it focus on becoming more inclusive.
Hamilton, the seven-time F1 champion and only Black driver, was reacting to comments made last year by three-time champion Nelson Piquet referring to Hamilton by a racial term. The word in question was brought to attention this week.
Former longtime F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone defended Piquet on Thursday, said he was surprised Hamilton hadn’t “brushed it aside,” and expressed support for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
“I don’t know why we are continuing to give these older voices a platform because they’re speaking upon our sport and we’re looking to go somewhere completely different. And it’s not representative, I think, of who we are as a sport now and where we’re planning to go,” Hamilton said, without mentioning either Piquet or Ecclestone by name.
Hamilton said he wanted F1 to do more to widen the diversity and inclusivity of the sport.
Hamilton is working with his Mercedes team to fund projects to promote more female participation in auto racing and engineering scholarships for Black students with a focus on auto racing.
They announced the first grants Thursday.
Piquet was suspended Thursday from his honorary membership of the British Racing Drivers’ Club, which owns and runs the Silverstone track used for this week’s Grand Prix.
Piquet used the term three times while discussing a crash between Hamilton and Max Verstappen during last year’s British Grand Prix, but has since apologised to Hamilton.
There has been widespread condemnation of Piquet’s remarks from F1 management, governing body the FIA and from many of the drivers.