“I was in tears–I’d suppressed over all these years”– Lewis Hamilton talks about his motivation to finally speak up against racism.
Lewis Hamilton took the knew in Austria, where his fiercest rival Sebastian Vettel joined him in solidarity, a revolutionary moment for F1, with the rest of the grid also wearing ‘End Racism’ T-shirts in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder.
Being Hamilton in F1 is not easy, as many don’t believe in his thoughts and ideology, but also it’s never easy to be different in a sport, which the caucasian people have largely dominated.
“I got in a car and I was the only kid of colour on the track. And I’d be getting pushed around. But then I could always turn their energy against them. I’d out-trick them, outsmart them, outwit them and beat them, and that, for me, was more powerful than any words,” Hamilton to the Guardian on his early days in Motorsport.
But it was until 2020 when Hamilton finally spoke about his issues with F1’s silence over the casual racism he has witnessed in his career, and he needed it to be stopped.
“I’d be in Newcastle and people would shout, ‘Go back to your country,’” he says. “Or in Spain, in 2008, when people painted themselves black and put on wigs, and were really mocking my family. And I remember the sport not saying anything about it.”
Emotions reached Everest.
Hamilton then reveals that his emotions peaked when the Black Lives Matter moment sparked after Floyd’s death in the United States, and he no longer can stay quiet.
“This wrath of emotions came up and I couldn’t contain myself,” he says, recalling this profoundly emotional moment in a matter-of-fact way.
“I was in tears. And this stuff came up that I’d suppressed over all these years. And it was so powerful and sad and also releasing. And I thought, ‘I can’t stay quiet.”
“I need to speak out because there are people experiencing what I’m experiencing, or 10 times worse. Or 100 times worse. And they need me right now.’ And so when I did speak out, that was me letting the Black community know: ‘I hear you and I stand with you.’”