Lewis Hamilton says F1 can no longer ignore human rights issues after claiming seventh world title

Jack de Menezes
·3-min read
Lewis Hamilton says he has more work to do to help F1 address human rights issues in countries it visits (Reuters)
Lewis Hamilton says he has more work to do to help F1 address human rights issues in countries it visits (Reuters)

Lewis Hamilton feels that despite claiming a seventh world championship with a brilliant drive to win the Turkish Grand Prix, he is “only getting started” in his drive to change the face of Formula One.

Hamilton equalled Michael Schumacher’s record of seven world titles with his 10th win of 2020, wrapping up the championship with three races to spare to add to his previous title wins in 2008, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2019.

His latest triumph led to immediate questions about how far he can take his success in the sport, with the 35-year-old facing a somewhat uncertain future as he remains without a contract for 2021 - though talks with Mercedes are expected to ramp up now that the championship is wrapped up.

But with Hamilton using much of 2020 to push his calls for greater diversity in the sport, the Briton stressed his work within the sport is far from done. In 2021, F1 will head to Saudi Arabia for the first time, where human rights abuses have tarnished the Arab nation’s reputation and led to widespread criticism over its treatment of women, capital punishment and the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 by government agents.

With other F1 venues such as China and Bahrain also subjected to criticism, Hamilton appeared to acknowledge a recent plea from human rights group Amnesty International to call out the wrongs being committed in those specific countries by referencing how the sport can help to inspire change.

Read more: Lewis Hamilton equals Michael Schumacher’s record of seven world titles

“I would love to stay,” Hamilton said. “We realise we've got to face and not ignore the human rights issues in the countries that we go to, not just 20 years, 30 years from now, but now.

“I want to help F1 and Mercedes in that journey, and moving more sustainable as a sport, I want to see if I can be part of that for a little bit longer.”

Hamilton was moved to tears after crossing the finish line as team officials lined up to congratulate him over the team radio, and the Briton used the opportunity to try and inspire young children who look up to him as a role model, having become the sport’s first and only black world champion in its 70-year history.

“For all the kids out there who dream the impossible, you can do it too,” he said on his radio while in tears on the cooldown lap.

Lewis Hamilton is crowned world champion after winning the Turkish Grand PrixGetty
Lewis Hamilton is crowned world champion after winning the Turkish Grand PrixGetty

He added to Sky Sports: "I remember being a kid and being five and watching all these Grands Prix, and loving cars, and not necessarily having someone who looked like me in the sport.

“But I still dreamt that I could potentially one day get there. I think there's going to be a lot of kids out there who see all these different industries and not seeing anyone who looks like them ... but you can be a trailblazer.

"You can create your own path for others to follow. Dream as big as you possibly can and don't let anyone tell you that you can or you can't. There's nothing you can't do if you put time and effort into it, and you have the support behind you."

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