Lewis Hamilton has joined other drivers in calling out F1 for all the racism, discrimination, and homophobia that has dominated the sport's headlines in recent weeks.
F1 was caught up in a firestorm ahead of the 2022 F1 British GP, when former three-time world champion Nelson Piquet's usage of a racial epithet to describe Hamilton in November 2021 was widely publicized. Former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone was also seen openly supporting Russian president Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine.
This was followed by a proverbial avalanche of complaints citing racism and discrimination, with plenty of lewd and obscene behavior by race attendees at the 2022 F1 Austrian GP weekend.
Lewis Hamilton did not mince his words during the pre-race press conference ahead of the 2022 F1 French GP, calling F1's 'We Race As One' initiative a mere 'lip service' while seeking more accountability.
The seven-time world champion also asked media outlets and publications not to give a platform to those who shine a negative light on the sport. He said:
“We shouldn’t be saying this is F1’s problem. This is all of us, going back to Silverstone, voices that are not aligned with us who have undertones of discrimination, we should not be amplifying those voices.”
Hamilton went on to add, saying:
“F1 100% should continue to do more. We had the ‘We Race As One’ initiative. That was just a lip service. I know F1 is focused on doing more. But we can always do more. Everyone can do more. It is about accountability. Everyone should be pushing for diversity and inclusion.”
Other F1 drivers back Lewis Hamilton's calls to tackle racism and discrimination in the sport
Lewis Hamilton was backed by his fellow F1 drivers, who feel the sport should have a zero-tolerance policy with regard to racism, discrimination and homophobia, not just on paper but in practice.
Red Bull driver Sergio Perez called for outright bans for misbehaving fans. The Mexican said:
“They are not welcome here. We should ban them for life because they don’t share our values. A few fans shouldn’t be able to embarrass our sport like that.”
Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel has also been very vocal about off-track issues hampering F1's image and calls for more inclusion in the sport. The German said:
“I think there has been a shift in the fan base. We can all see the excitement for F1, a younger audience on average coming to the track. The abuse has probably always been there but I don't think at any time it was correct. But maybe you are seeing a generation coming to the track who complains about it and makes a noise and uses different platforms to complain about it.”
“It is great to see people having the courage to stand up because by learning about it, we can do something about it. It has been going on for some time at all major sporting events. It is more than about time that it is changing because there is no space for those things.”
Lewis Hamilton has also asked all teams to try and bring more diversity and inclusivity into their operations. The Briton has partnered with Mercedes to launch the Mission 44 initiative, which aims to try and allow people from all walks of life to enter the world of F1.