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After Nelson Piquet slur, Lewis Hamilton says F1 must listen to younger people

Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain attends a press conference after the F1 Grand Prix of Canada at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve

FILE - Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain attends a press conference after the F1 Grand Prix of Canada at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Photo: Clive Mason/Getty Images/AFP

Published Jun 30, 2022

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Silverstone — Lewis Hamilton on Thursday asked why 'older voices' in Formula One are still given a platform for offensive and out-dated views.

In the wake of reports this week that Nelson Piquet's used a racial slur to describe Hamilton last year, the British driver said the issue was not one person's use of an offensive term.

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"It's not just about one individual," the Mercedes driver told a news conference at Silverstone, ahead of this weekend's British Grand Prix. "It's not about just that one use of that term."

"It's more about the bigger picture.

"I don't know why we are continuing to give these older voices a platform -- because they're speaking upon our sport and we're looking to go somewhere completely different.

"And it's not representative, I think, of who we are as a sport now and where we're planning to go.

"If we're looking to grow in the US and other countries, in South Africa, and grow our audience, we need to look into the future and give the younger people a platform that will be more representative."

"It all comes back down to F1 and the media and we shouldn't be giving these old voices a platform."

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Piquet, whose daughter Kelly is the girlfriend of world champion Max Verstappen, was condemned for a term he used in a Brazilian podcast in November, discussing a controversial collision between Hamilton and the Dutchman during last year's British Grand Prix.

Piquet, 69, has apologised. He said he did not mean any offence with the Brazilian-Portuguese term.

Hamilton said he was grateful for the support he had received from the sport, particularly from the drivers.

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"It's been two years since many of us took the knee at the first race in Austria and, of course, we are still faced with the challenges," he said.

"I've been on the receiving end of racism and criticism, and that negativity, and archaic narratives for a long, long time, and undertones of discrimination, so there's nothing really particularly new for me."

'Micro-aggression'

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"These past two weeks, I don't think a day has gone by without one of these people saying negative things, or trying to bring me down, but I'm still here.

"We need to push for action."

"Why do we give these guys a platform? They are clearly not willing to change and these undertones of discrimination and micro-aggression in today's world are not helpful."

Four-time champion Sebastian Vettel offered support.

"It is more than just these recent days if we are very honest," said the Aston Martin driver. "It is probably what he [Hamilton] has been through, and his family, his entire life.

"It is very important to continue to talk about it because it is not gone. It won't happen overnight. That would be great, but it is a bigger matter and F1 in that regard has a responsibility to address these issues."

He added: "We have a campaign 'WeRaceAsOne' and it is very clear where we are going."

Piquet's membership of the British Racing Drivers Club (BRDC), which owns Silverstone, was suspended on Thursday after F1 made clear he would no longer be welcome in the paddock.

Also on Thursday, Hamilton and Mercedes announced the first grants by the Ignite initiative they launched last year to promote diversity.

The grants, of "over half a million pounds", will go to Motorsport UK, to increase female participation in grass roots motorsport, and to the Royal Academy of Engineering for "Masters-level motorsport engineering scholarships for Black students", said a Mercedes statement.

"We chose these grants because they focus on supporting individuals from two crucial and under-represented demographics, moving us towards our goal of increasing the number of women and black talent in the sport," said Hamilton.

AFP

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