In addition to thanking former Formula 1 driver Sebastian Vettel for ‘taking the knee’ alongside him, Lewis Hamilton has criticized Middle Eastern nations for their human rights records.
In a video posted to the Mercedes team’s YouTube page, Hamilton held up a picture of his rainbow-colored helmet for the race in Qatar in 2021 and explained why he was making a statement by donning the colors of the LGBT community.
For me, it’s mind-blowing that we still live in a period where there are so many concerns with women’s rights, LGBT rights, and laws that prevent individuals from being who they truly are. This is especially true in the Middle East.
“I’ve always taken risks, so I said, ‘I’m going to do this whether or not they throw me in jail, I don’t care what they’re going to do. Even if it results in my death, I will defend what I believe in.
With the comment, Hamilton claimed his goal was to “set those in power on edge,” adding, “I know that sounds weird, but it’s like I’ve got to do it.
“I need to make people aware of how crucial it is, start those conversations, and make those in positions of authority uncomfortable enough to feel compelled to discuss enacting change because it destabilizes their nation.”
As he explained, “So I did it and I won the race, and my drive was like, I’ve got to get to the top of the podium because that will make the biggest bang and the biggest awareness for it, and I did, so I was really proud of it.”
Hamilton: I was very appreciative of Seb.
The seven-time world champion noted earlier in the video that he had backing from the German driver in 2020, when the Black Lives Matter movement started to permeate over many sports.
A “really tough year,” according to Hamilton, Vettel “came out of his shell” to fight for issues he believed in.
He pulled out a picture of himself standing next to Vettel, who was wearing a shirt with the motto “End Racism” and the words “Black Lives Matter” on it.
“This was in 2020 with Seb, and this was a really huge year for me and I think for the world and for the sport where there was such an uprising and an uproar of people finally standing up and saying ‘enough is enough’ of what was happening around the world,” Hamilton recalled.
“It’s strange to believe that we still have hate crimes, homophobia, and racism today. This was an extremely difficult year for me since I’ve spent my entire career and life in this sport as the sole person of color.
And I recall sporting a Black Lives Matter T-shirt to the first race, with Seb standing by my side as we both took a knee.
In 2020, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton make a statement.
Vettel’s activism, he said, had only just begun. “And then after that, just seeing him grow in terms of the confidence he had to come out of his shell and fight for what he believed in, and we basically stood arm and arm against lots of different causes when people said that politics don’t belong in sport,” he said.
Everyone should be treated equally, and everyone has a right to be treated equally. Human rights are not political; they are fundamental human rights.
“I was really really grateful for Seb to be with me,” he added, adding that the athletes’ “huge platform” should be utilized for good.