Personnel from Mercedes team joined Hamilton in taking a knee pre-race; Eleven other drivers took a knee on the grid; Hamilton dominated Styrian GP and then performed Black Power salute on the podium
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 12/07/20 10:45pm
Lewis Hamilton says F1 must keep on to do more to help drive conversation and change around equality, as he also reflected on a “beautiful” moment before his Styrian GP victory when Mercedes joined him in having a knee.
After a dominant win in Sunday’s race – the Mercedes driver’s to begin 2020 in the season’s second event – Hamilton clenched his right fist in the air when he got out of the car, and then again on the podium, in a powerful Black Power salute.
With all drivers wearing anti-racism T-shirts for the 2nd race in a row, Hamilton had earlier again taken a knee in front of the grid along side 11 other drivers prior to the race.
Four drivers stood, while four weren’t present, in pre-race scenes that promoted fresh debate about perhaps the gathering marked a sufficiently united show of solidarity.
We stand together ✊🏾 the team today took the knee that has been just amazing to observe that together we could learn and start to become open minded of what’s going on in the world. Thank you to everyone within my team and to you #TeamLH, I appreciate your entire support along with your positive messages 🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/zfKGdjDjce
— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) July 12, 2020
Other F1 personnel also took a knee on the grid, including Hamilton’s Mercedes team.
“We’re learning along the way. I think this weekend the drivers spoke after the drivers’ briefing about what we intended to do,” said Hamilton of the pre-race gathering which was this week arranged by the drivers.
“The question was how long do we… some individuals were asking how long do we have to continue to do this? Some felt like one was enough a week ago and I recently had to encourage them that racism is here, going to be here for probably longer than our time here, and people of colour that are subject to racism don’t possess time to take a moment to protest and that be it.
“We’ve got to continue to push for equality and really to continue to raise knowing of it, and so i don’t really know what else we can do moving forward, however for me to have Valtteri [Bottas] and my team also lining and acknowledging and kneeling before the start of race I believe was really huge and I’m incredibly grateful for their understanding and this contribution to it.”
Speaking to Sky Sports F1, Hamilton said of Mercedes’ gesture: “I didn’t view it exactly. I was told just before the race that we’re going to get it done.
“It’s not at all something I asked for them to do, but it’s really a beautiful thing. It does not take a lot to take action like that, and it’s really not changing the world, but perhaps shifting of perceptions and shifting ideals.
“We’ll just carry on.”
Hamilton’s post-race anti-racism gesture echoed Tommie Smith and John Carlos when they took gold and bronze respectively in the 200m at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico.
Hamilton hails Mercedes
The 35-year-old said the team’s culture of wanting to learn and always move forward underpinned the six-time champion’s unprecedented achievements in F1 when they opened up still another season with back-to-back wins.
“We’ve had so much success of these years and the easiest thing is to lose focus, to ease up and lose determination I guess,” remarked the Briton. “I don’t observe that ever happening in this team, it just does not seem to exist around.
“The guys back at the factory are relentless. The guys here [at the track] continue to be passionate about what they do. We are so united and also you saw today on the grid all of us took the knee together and that’s shown [that] with Mercedes we have been learning on the way, and they’re learning on the way, and being accepting of change.
“But also when we’re talking about the automobile, they jump straight onto it, they don’t jump to conclusions, they do great research and this week-end we’ve maybe not had any problems thankfully. Still there is a long way to go and it’s really a challenge for all with their cars but this is a step forwards without a doubt.”
Hamilton ‘over the moon’ with victory
Hamilton dominated Sunday’s race from start to finish for his 85th career win – just six away from Michael Schumacher’s record – per week after finishing a penalised fourth at the same circuit after a disappointing weekend by the six-time champion’s high standards.
He has long been renowned for hitting back immediately after setbacks and when asked how that he manages it, Hamilton told Sky F1: “With great difficulty, but where there is a will there is a way.
“The last week-end definitely was psychologically challenging to have the penalties and then to be called into the stewards on Sunday morning right before the race. Then [to] get still another penalty after which another one in the race.
“It’s never easy, but there’s nothing you are able to do about the past, all you can perform is focus and channel your energy to the future. So, I just ensured I stayed here, trained well, ate well, slept well and worked hard with Bono [Peter Bonnington, Hamilton’s race engineer] and the guys to understand where last week-end went wrong and corrected it this weekend.”
Hamilton, who unusually had only won once in seven attempts at the Red Bull Ring, added: “I do not know why there are tracks that some drivers are stronger than the others, but this really is one of my weak circuits, so to get a performance like this today I’m on the moon. I’m so happy. But I actually do also know there’s a good way to go.”
The six-time champion leaves F1’s Austrian double-header just six points behind team-mate Valtteri Bottas at the top of early drivers’ standings. The Finn finished 2nd after winning last week.