A number of Formula One drivers have come forward to condemn racism after Lewis Hamilton strongly criticised the silence from his sport on the killing of George Floyd.
Hamilton, who is still the only black driver in F1, was damning in his assessment of Formula One’s reaction as outrage at Floyd’s death spread around the world. “I see those of you who are staying silent, some of you the biggest of stars yet you stay silent in the midst of injustice,” he wrote on Instagram on Sunday. “Not a sign from anybody in my industry which of course is a white-dominated sport.
“I’m one of the only people of colour there yet I stand alone. I would have thought by now you would see why this happens and say something about it but you can’t stand alongside us. Just know I know who you are, and I see you.”
By Monday morning, hours after Hamilton’s impassioned post, Charles Leclerc, Daniel Ricciardo, Lando Norris, George Russell, Carlos Sainz, Nicholas Latifi and Sergio Pérez had responded.
Ferrari’s Leclerc responded apologetically with an admission that he had been unsure how to articulate his feelings publicly. “To be completely honest, I felt out of place and uncomfortable sharing my thoughts on social media about the whole situation and this is why I haven’t express myself earlier than today,” he posted on Twitter. “And I was completely wrong. I still struggle to find the words to describe the atrocity of some videos I’ve seen on the internet. Racism needs to be met with actions, not silence. Please be actively participating, engaging and encouraging others to spread awareness. It is our responsibility to speak out against injustice. Don’t be silent. I stand #BlackLivesMatters”
Similarly Williams’ George Russell appeared to feel emboldened by Hamilton’s lead. “We all have a voice to speak up for what’s right – and until now I didn’t know how to use mine in this situation,” he wrote on Twitter. “To echo Charles Leclerc’s words, I just felt out of place sharing my thoughts on these atrocities publicly. I struggle to comprehend what I’m seeing in the news and on social media right now – and honestly, I still can’t find the words to express how it makes me feel. But ultimately, no matter how uncomfortable it may be to speak out, silence achieves nothing. It’s time we all stand together and kick racism out of our societies for good. Use your voice, spread awareness as far as you can. We’re all responsible for ending the injustice.”
Lando Norris, who drives for McLaren, posted links to the Black Lives Matter campaign. “I have fans and followers. Support and love. And I have power through this to lead and inspire so many,” he wrote on Twitter. But we also stand for what’s right. This time I ask you to do something and take action.”
Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo was forceful in damning the events in Minneapolis as a disgrace. “Seeing the news the last few days has left me saddened, what happened to George Floyd and what continues to happen in today’s society is a disgrace,” he wrote on Instagram with an “Enough is enough” mural.
“Now more than ever we need to stand together, unified together. Racism is toxic and needs to be addressed not with violence or silence but with unity and action. We need to stand up, we need to be a WE. Let’s be better people. It’s 2020 ffs. Black lives matter.”
Hamilton had already made several posts already reflecting his sadness and anger at the events including reposting LeBron James’s post comparing the police officer’s stance to Colin Kaepernick’s peaceful protest in 2016, during which he knelt during the national anthem to highlight racial injustice in the US.
The world champion has been vocal in his criticism of the sport for its lack of diversity and last year spoke of his desire to work with F1 and the FIA to bring about change in future.