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Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton: I did not tell team about 2020 BLM protest

The seven-time F1 World Champion details how he did not tell the team that he would wear his Black Lives Matter T-shirt during the 'We Race As One' pre-race ceremony.

Hamilton protest
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When F1 became the first international sport to return during the Covid pandemic in the middle of 2020, it was in the wake of the killing of George Floyd.

Floyd's murder prompted numerous anti-racism protests in support of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.

F1 elected to launch their 'We Race As One' initiative alongside their 'End Racism' slogan that appeared on cars. Drivers were provided with t-shirts and told that a pre-race one minute silence would be observed as part of their efforts towards equality.

At the time there was ambiguity over whether drivers could 'take the knee' which had become the symbolic gesture against racism, originating from NFL player Colin Kaepernick.

Lewis Hamilton elected to do so alongside several other drivers, while also wearing a BLM shirt. Speaking on the Jay Shetty podcast, the seven-time World Champion revealed that he did not tell the team about the protest through fear they would stop him.

"There's a right way to do it but the first day I was going to take the knee, I didn't feel like I could tell my team. Because I felt that they wouldn't understand how important it is for me to do this on this day," said Hamilton.

"I remember I had my Black Lives Matter shirt hidden and I just wore it out there and I went ahead with it. The sport had made all these t-shirts with the 'We Race As One' slogan and they gave these t-shirts to everybody and I was like 'I'm not wearing that, that's not what this is about', and so this is what I'm doing."

"Afterwards my team are like 'Well if you just told us we could have prepared better' but I had this fear that they would try and stop me.

"But that was just a fear, they have been massively supportive through the whole thing. My hope was that kids would be watching me and saying 'Why is he taking the knee? What does that shirt mean? What is going on Dad, Mum?' And then the parents would have been in an awkward position having to explain it."

Hamilton: I don't care if sponsors drop me for being outspoken

The FIA recently updated their International Sporting Code that effectively bans drivers from making statements which are "political, religious, or personal" statements.

Now they must seek the approval of the governing body before taking part in a protest.

Hamilton stated that he does not care if sponsors drop him for making any statements, saying that it is important to "take the chance" and be outspoken.

"I remember kind of being on my knees thinking 'What is happening in the world?' I've got to be outspoken, I've got to take that chance because if I don't do it, then no one's going to do it," Hamilton explained.

"If I don't take the knee, if I don't let people like me know that I care, [that] I hear you and I'm with you.

"I'm going to do something about it and I'm going to risk it all, I don't care if my partners want to drop me because they want to be associated with this narrative. I literally let go of all that fear and that's why I came so forward with it."

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