ISTANBUL, Turkey – Lewis Hamilton vowed to continue his fight for social justice, after being crowned World champion for a record-equalling seventh time on Sunday.
Hamilton, 36, is the first and currently only black Formula 1 driver. He has been one of the driving forces behind the racial and social justice movement in the sport this season.
In May, the death of black American George Floyd sparked anti-racism protests all over the World. Floyd died following his arrest, where a white police officer had knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
The incident prompted calls for change, with many celebrities, including Hamilton, using their platform to speak out against systemic racism and social injustice.
Hamilton has been using F1 races this season to take a stand and has been seen wearing T-shirts inspired by his fight for justice.
He said leading up to the Turkish Grand Prix and even after he finished the race for his 10th win this season out of 14 races that his thoughts revolved around what was important to him.
“This year has been so unpredictable,” he said in a post on Twitter. “With the pandemic and the season obviously being pushed back for several months, I had the most downtime I’ve ever had in my life.
“It gave me a chance to really think about my ultimate purpose. Seven World Championships means the world to me, I can’t even describe how much, but there’s still another race we’ve yet to win.”
On Hamilton’s recommendation, the Mercedes team changed from its traditional silver cars and switched to black in honour of the push for racial equality.
“This year, I’ve been driven not just by my desire to win on the track, but by a desire to help push our sport, and the world to become more diverse and inclusive,” he said.
“I promise you I am not going to stop fighting for change. We have a long way to go, but I will continue to push for equality within our sport and within the greater world we live in.”
Hamilton said that equalling the record of World titles held by retired champion Michael Schumacher of Germany shone a unique spotlight on him, which he planned to use to continue the fight for equality.
“So, while you’re here paying attention, I want to ask everyone to do their part in helping to create a more equal world,” he said.
“Let’s be more accepting and kinder to each other. Let’s make it so that opportunity is not something that is dependent on background or skin colour.”
Hamilton ended his post by urging followers to keep believing in their dreams because he was currently living his.
“Nothing is impossible,” he said. “A driving force for me this year has been to set an example for the next generation to never give up on your dreams.
“I was told by many that my dream was impossible, yet here I am. I want you to know that you can do it too. Never give up, keep fighting and let’s keep rising to the occasion.”
Hamilton now has 94 career wins, breaking Schumacher’s all-time wins record after he won in Portugal on October 25 for his 92nd career win. Sergio Perez of Racing Point and former champion Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari completed the podium, after a thrilling race at Intercity Park.
Hamilton, whose father is Grenadian, started the race in sixth, rose to third midway through the first lap and then dropped back to sixth by the end of the first lap after an error at Turn 9.
But a decision to drive 50 laps on a set of intermediate tyres and change them only once, allowed Hamilton to drive astutely and claim victory by over 25 seconds from Perez.
Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas of Finland had to beat Hamilton by eight points to keep the title race alive – but he spun out six times – twice on the opening lap – and endured a miserable race to finish 14th. (CMC)