Lewis Hamilton. (Photo by Joe Klamar/Pool via Getty Images)
Lewis Hamilton. (Photo by Joe Klamar/Pool via Getty Images)

Three strikes: ‘It’s once again a shambles’

Lewis Hamilton has criticised Formula 1 for a "rushed" pre-race anti-racism display at the Hungarian GP, and says he will speak to officials to ensure drivers - who again did not all take a knee - are given more time to send their message.

F1's drivers were again wearing the 'End Racism' T-shirts, while the same message was displayed on a board behind, as the majority gathered to make a stand against racism and discrimination ahead of the Hungarian national anthem.

Normally the drivers assemble at the front of the grid for the anthem but Sunday's ceremony took place under the podium, with the FIA sending a note to teams beforehand to say that drivers need to gather in front of the giant LED screen.

Many arrived late, and only eight of the 15 drivers who arrived in time for the pre-race ceremony joined Hamilton, the sport's only black driver, in taking a knee - a gesture which has been common and collective in other sports.

"Moving forwards we need to speak to Formula 1," Hamilton told Sky F1 after winning the wet-dry race. "They need to do a better job. It was such a rush. I was getting out of the car, running over, and quickly taking the knee."

F1 has been vocal in its support of Hamilton and has launched the We Race As One initiative in a bid to improve diversity, with concrete plans to improve diversity in the sport being worked on.

 

But the sport only organised a formal anti-racism display for the opening race in Austria. Drivers gathered at the front of the grid at their own accord in the second race, with 12 of 16 taking a knee.

"They need to do more, and I don't know why they only did it for the first race at the start, they've not done it since then," said Hamilton.

"They've come out saying they're going to be fighting for diversity and End Racism, but they're not giving us the platform to continue that because it's all rushed.

"I think they can give us more time. I'll probably send an email over the next couple of days, try to co-ordinate with them. They do want to do it, it's just I guess there was not good enough communication."

Romain Grosjean, a director of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association which all the current grid are members of, admitted prior to the weekend that no decision had been made on drivers making a collective stand and taking a knee ahead of the race, with one to be made in the Friday briefing.

But Hamilton contested: "He doesn't think it's important to do it. He's one of them that thinks that it was done once and that's all we need to do.

"So I tried to speak to him about what the problem is and it's not going away and we have to continue to fight for it. I think this time he didn't mention anything in the drivers' briefing and neither did Sebastian [Vettel, another GPDA director].

"Sebastian and I messaged each other and he stressed, as did I, the importance that we continue to do it."

Johnny Herbert says Hamilton should wear the same shirt as the rest of the grid. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Johnny Herbert says Hamilton should wear the same shirt as the rest of the grid. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Of the drivers who didn't take a knee in Hungary, Hamilton added: "With the other drivers, there's not a lot I can do.

"I gave a lot of energy in Austria to try and convince a couple of the drivers and it's a battle. But I think what's important is the one's that are doing it, the understanding I think is fantastic.

"Who knows … my dream is that one day, the other drivers come round to it. If we get to the last race and we're kneeling down and showing that we're all united, I think that would be beautiful."

'IT WAS ONCE AGAIN A SHAMBLES'

Sky Sports F1 commentator Johnny Herbert said Hamilton should wear the same shirt as the rest of the grid.

"I get it's frustrating, I go back to when I saw the GPDA statement that we're all together and we all agree with it and then we saw in Austria that it looked a little messy. We were in a similar position here. The GPDA and the drivers can't get together and agree how they need to do it," Herbert said.

"I think the other thing is finding a way they are together because at the moment they just seem like a splintered group. But if they do the shirts for example, they've all got to wear the same shirt. I think Lewis wearing a different shirt to everyone else makes him different to everyone else."

Ted Kravitz on The Notebook added: "Formula One has got to try and get this End Racism message sorted out. As we've said, for a sport that can count itself as some of slickest operations and survives and thrives on split second timing, it was just another mess. I was watching from the grandstand and if you're going to do this, do it properly. For heaven's sake. The take a knee moment, four drivers were late, none of the drivers who didn't take a knee in the first race changed their minds, some hadn't shown up those that did didn't know when it started. Clearly not united but not organised as well. Lewis Hamilton said F1 has to do a better job and that is putting it mildly. If you wanted to be strong about it, you would say it was once again a shambles."

Hamilton certainly wasn’t rushed as he cruised to victory in the race. (Photo by Leonhard Foeger/Pool via Getty Images)
Hamilton certainly wasn’t rushed as he cruised to victory in the race. (Photo by Leonhard Foeger/Pool via Getty Images)

Karun Chandhok described it as "chaotic and disorganised".

"Lewis has really said it all, it just seemed like a complete breakdown in communication on what the plan was," said the former F1 driver as the Sky F1 team reflected on Hamilton's comments and the drivers' pre-race gathering.

"At the end of the day it [taking a knee] is a symbol of support - it's a sign of support from the drivers. Clearly there isn't unanimity there, we've seen that since the first race. That's one thing. But the fact that you've got Lewis kneeling, you've got other drivers walking in and out, the whole thing just looked chaotic.

"I contrast that with what I saw at the start of the Test match between England and the West Indies, which was to me a really powerful sign. You had everybody, the players and the non-playing members of the teams, by the boundary line and that to me looked like a really well organised effort.

"Formula 1 is an incredibly well-oiled machine and well-organised sport - I think we're the first international sport in this COVID situation to take place - and this seems to be a little bit chaotic.

"They do need to address it and sort it out. We can't force drivers to take a knee or do things they don't want to do, but just organising the ceremony around the national anthem is just a matter of timing. Then what the drivers choose to do is up to them."

- Sky Sport

Originally published as Three strikes: 'It's once again a shambles'


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