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'No one has the right to tell us to shut up' – Lewis Hamilton blasts anti-activism critics

Lewis Hamilton says no one has the right to silence his views anymore after admitting last year’s push for diversity and equality in the sport was one of the bravest things he’s ever done.
Hamilton, Formula One’s only black driver, led pre-race anti-racism demonstrations last year, taking a knee on the grid with t-shirts supporting the course which were worn by all drivers.

It came after the global outcry following the death of unarmed black man George Floyd at the hands of US police.

“I would argue that last year was the bravest,” Hamilton explained to Sky Sport F1’s Rachel Brookes.

“For one of the very few people of colour within our sport, to be able to voice out your feelings and be open about experiences you’ve had, not be sure of the criticism or backlash that might come from that if it’s interpreted that way.

“I’m sure you can empathise as a woman in a male dominated sport, I mean I can only imagine the challenges you have faced and you for sure, will have had to have been quiet when you’ve taken certain flack or whatever it might have been.

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He continued: “It doesn’t come easy. I think naturally people probably work hard to make things maybe look, or they appear easier than they are.

“But with great difficulty, and I’ve got a great team around me, but I would say I’m a lot busier than any drivers’ ever been.

“And finding the right balance is probably the hardest thing. You never want to arrive and people say, oh the reason you didn’t perform is because you’re too distracted by all these other things, which is an easy cop out for people to attack you with.

“If you look at along the way, all of the different things I’ve done, when I was in New York doing a fashion show, and then I flew over, everyone – even Niki [Lauda] was like you can’t do that.

“And then I put in that qualifying lap which kind of breaks that mould and everyone was like actually, oh yes you can. It’s what I really think it’s about, breaking the mould.

“I care to do the job, I wouldn’t be able to do all of these other things if it wasn’t for racing.

“There’s so much I want to do, but it almost feels like there’s not enough time, even though there is time. But like everyone they want everything now.

“You’ve just got to plan it out and be patient.”

Hamilton, the only active F1 driver to be knighted, also explained how it feels to now be a Sir, after receiving the highest honour on the Queen’s New Year’s list last year.

“I think I’m weird. It’s the same thing as when I got home, and I think my dad told me we’d got a call from Ron Dennis asking to sponsor [me] at 13 and I just went up to my room to do my homework,” Hamilton laughed.

“I think it’s definitely overwhelming, if you really think about it, and then you forget about it and then I walk around and don’t remember that I’m a sir. I think it’s more from the outside what it looks like.”

And when asked what he’d like to see after his name, away from his Formula One achievements, he continued: “I don’t really know, I haven’t really thought about it.

“Maybe game changer or voice for equality or something like that.”