When Lewis Hamilton made his Formula 1 debut at McLaren in 2007, he was immediately competitive. He would finish his first season in second place after Kimi Raikkonen, who was the third dog to snatch the world title under the noses of McLaren drivers Alonso and Hamilton
. Meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton can call himself seven-time world champion with no fewer than a hundred victories to his credit. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, he recalls an incident during his first season in Formula 1 at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona when he was racialized by some fans.
“I still remember my first year in Formula 1 when I experienced racism from the public and nobody did anything about it.”
“I had achieved my dream but I was not happy. It couldn’t be me and I had no confidence, so I kept it quiet. We suppress so much that we are not aware of the pain we are experiencing.”
In recent years, the seven-time world champion has championed the black community and committed to more diversity within Formula 1. To date, Hamilton remains the only black driver to have ever raced in F1.
“A year or two ago I went through my photos of parties with the team and realized that all the teams are still white. I wondered how that was possible when I had been there for so long.”
The death of George Floyd was the definitive turning point for Hamilton.
“Everything that happened after George’s death has hit me hard. I couldn’t believe that so many people were still silent after everything that happened,” said Hamilton.
“I am now willing to take the risk. I don’t care if it’s my job or my reputation. I want the black community to know that I am listening and that I am behind them.”
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