Lewis Hamilton supports protests but unlikely to take knee himself
Formula One’s first and only black champion competes in Sunday’s race in Texas
Lewis Hamilton supports the NFL protests but he says winning is the most important thing for him. Photograph: Clive Rose/Getty Images
Lewis Hamilton is unlikely to kneel during United States national anthem ahead of Sunday’s Formula One race in Texas.
Hamilton, who could become the first British driver to win four world championship titles this weekend, had considered following in the footsteps of a number of NFL stars who have protested racial inequality in the country.
The 32-year-old — Formula One’s first and only black champion — has been vocal in his support of the so-called ‘take the knee’ movement and his distaste of US President Donald Trump.
Trump has denounced the protests as unpatriotic and called on NFL franchises to fire or suspend players who do not stand during the Star-Spangled Banner and on fans to boycott matches.
“I don’t really plan on allowing all the BS that is surrounding the topic to pull me down in my stride to win this world title,” Hamilton said.
“I have worked hard to be where I am today and whilst I do have opinions and feelings towards the whole situation, at the moment I have no plans to do anything.
“Winning here is the most important thing for me in the midst of all that is going on in the country. That is a priority.
“I have posted about the movement because I respect it highly and I find it awesome. I am very much in support of it.”
Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who is now without a team, protested racial injustices in America last season by kneeling during the national anthem.
The movement has continued into the current NFL campaign, while German football side Hertha Berlin expressed their solidarity by kneeling before a 2-0 defeat against Schalke last weekend.
“I know Colin and I’m a big admirer of him,” Hamilton later told the BBC. “What he’s started, no one has done that since Martin Luther King.
“It’s crazy to think, when slavery was abolished that 100 years later you’ve still got the same problem. People are still divided and there’s still racism and there’s still discrimination.
“It’s sickening to think that there’s so much negativity when we should all be pulling together for equality and diversity.
“With Kaepernick, sacrificing his career for the greater good, just that alone is admirable. That puts me on the spot. ‘What do I do?’ To be continued.”