Lewis Hamilton salutes ‘positive steps’ over racism

Hamilton will be bidding for his seventh F1 world title

Lewis Hamilton has saluted the “positive steps” taken in the fight against racism as a result of the global protests of the past two weeks.

The six-time F1 world champion said the death of George Floyd in police custody last month had seen “the world open its eyes to the realities of racism”.

He said progress had been made through “our collective voices and actions”.

“People have united in the fight for racial equality and against police brutality and white supremacy.”

Hamilton has been outspoken on the issue since Floyd died in police custody in Minneapolis last month after an officer knelt on his neck for nine minutes.

His last words were: “I can’t breathe,” a phrase that has become a mantra of the demonstrations that have erupted around the world since.

The officer, Derek Chauvin, has since been charged with second-degree murder.

Hamilton, F1’s first black driver, described last week how he had felt “completely overcome with rage” at events in the US following Floyd’s death.

And on Monday he saluted demonstrators in Bristol who tore down a statue of the 17th century slave trader Edward Colston, saying governments around the world should “implement the peaceful removal of these racist symbols”.

Archive: Hamilton’s struggles to get to the top

Before his return to an F1 cockpit on Wednesday for the first time since February, Hamilton added: “We’ve seen laws being passed. We’ve seen police officers held accountable and charged for their actions.

“Brands have started to align themselves with the Black Lives Matter movement, and are educating themselves on how they can do better.

“There’s also been a surge in the sale of anti-racist books, and many are watching films and documentaries to better educate themselves on our experience.

“More and more, people are wanting to learn about black history. This is only the beginning and there is still so much more change to come.”

Hamilton is driving at Silverstone on Wednesday in a 2018 Mercedes F1 car, in which he won his fifth world title, to prepare for the new season which starts in Austria on 3-5 July.

The test is for Mercedes to “blow off the cobwebs” after three months of inaction since the coronavirus crisis laid waste the start of the season.

The team are wearing protective gear and trialling the protocols all F1 teams will be taking to ensure the resumption of competition does not bring a heightened risk of spreading coronavirus.

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