The racing world has rallied in support around the seven-time world champion, Lewis Hamilton since reports surfaced of Nelson Piquet using the term ‘neguinho’ (which translates to the n-word in English, considered a racial slur) to refer to Hamilton when talking about Max Verstappen’s crash at Silverstone last year. Nelson Piquet’s apology did not do much to soothe the flames, as it was considered to be wholly inadequate.
The FIA, Formula 1, the drivers, and many celebrities around the world such as acclaimed Brazilian author Paulo Coelho have condemned the racist comment made by Piquet against Lewis Hamilton, and have in general, said that racism has no place in sport, and society. Lewis Hamilton appreciates the sentiments, but he feels that there is also a need for action.
Addressing the issue, talking at the Drivers’ press conference, Hamilton said: “I am incredibly grateful to everyone who has supported me within the sport, particularly the drivers. It has been two years since we first took a knee in Austria. We are still faced with challenges. I’ve been on the receiving end of racism and criticism and negativity in archaic narratives for a long, long time.”
Lewis Hamilton highlights the need for action
As reported by CRASH, Piquet is not the only ‘unhelpful old voice’ Lewis Hamilton has hit out against. Bernie Ecclestone called for him to retire recently, and even said that Hamilton should ‘be happy’ with Piquet’s apology. Jackie Stewart also called for him to resign. Commenting on this, Hamilton said:
“There’s nothing really particularly new for me. I think it’s more about the bigger picture. Why do we give these older voices a platform? It is not representative of our sport and where we are. We are looking to grow – in the US and in South Africa. We are looking to the future to give younger people a platform who are more representative.”
Lewis Hamilton highlighted that action, rather than just statements is needed to tackle the issue of racism, saying that just statements are not enough:
“There is a knee-jerk reaction from companies around the world. They probably all already have a script ready for that crisis management. It is not enough. It is now about action. People who are not relevant in the sport for years are trying to bring me down but I am still here.“
“I have always tried to take the higher road and be respectful. It ties back to – why do we give them a platform? They are not with the times. They are not willing to change. Micro-aggression in today’s world is not healthy.”
Hamilton made it clear that his call for action against racism in sports and society is not about any individual or even the use of a particular term. He called for action against such mindsets and said that there is a need for accountability.