Lewis Hamilton has always been a man apart. The higher you climb in the highest form of racing, the more alone you feel at the top. Before the coronavirus came to life as we had learned at the time of the interruption, just as the Formula 1 season was accelerating for a kick-off in mid-March, the ace Mercedes driver was on the verge of statistical immortality, just eight wins. and a shy world championship to become the best of all.
The fact that the 35-year-old Briton was also born to a Caucasian mother and a black father makes his unique status in this game of white lilies both a breakthrough and a burden. And a brother cannot bear such a heavy weight for so long before his legs wobble.
Despite 13 seasons of relentless tension, it wasn't until the recent Black Lives Matter tsunami that Hamilton finally reached its tipping point. As protests broke out around the world over the bestial murder of George Floyd by four depraved Minneapolis police, Hamilton is ashamed to approve of the movement or to punish his sport for avoiding this problem. “I see those of you who remain silent,” he wrote on Instagram, “some of you are the biggest stars, but remain silent in the midst of injustice.”
Given the wide range of sports figures engaged in a wider conversation about racial inequality since the brutal murder of Floyd, from Michael Jordan to Tiger Woods, some will no doubt be wowed to think that Hamilton is just getting on the train , Or worse: do it by influence. But the flawless truth is that Hamilton has retained that same energy throughout his career. When Woods fled the race and described himself as “Cablinasien”, Hamilton was unequivocal. “I'm not fighting race at all; I'm black,” Hamilton told me during Sports Illustrated at the 2015 United States Grand Prix. “When I'm here, I don't feel any different, but I know I'm different. “When Jordan” joked “that” Republicans also buy sneakers “to explain that they did not publicly support a black mayor's historic Senate campaign in his home state of North Carolina, Hamilton never pushes its Merc out of the paddock without slipping. colored helmet with the phrase “Still I Rise” scribbled on the back. I was wondering, was this a cry from Maya Angelou? “No, bruv,” he joked, showing that mocking smile. “It's Tupac.”
When another black specimen in a majority white stratum could be content to play the role of the prized token, Hamilton breaks any label that casts its presence in F1 alone as a sufficient change. He is too talented and essential to sport to be rejected or totally rejected. For most of his career, Hamilton has asked F1 to become more racial, cultural and gendered, which is surprising that his voice hasn't completely given up on him. This is a topic he touched on again in his extended Instagram post. “It is no sign of anyone in my industry, which is of course a white dominated sport,” he said. I am one of the only people of color there, but I am alone. I thought now that you would see why this is happening and talk about it, but you cannot be with us. I just know that I know who you are and I see you.
To me, the message reminded me of memories of a press conference during this USGP '15, when another black reporter asked Hamilton a question about how to attract more black Americans to F1 . (“Don't ask me,” said Hamilton, showing the white pilots with him on the stand. “Ask these guys first! I'd love to hear what others think!”) As funny and weird as this moment There, this time, Hamilton made no effort to hide his frustrations. His dramatic change in tone was enough to provoke the nervous titration that the F1 drivers always produce when they set up to take position this week. “To be completely honest, I felt out of place and uncomfortable sharing my thoughts,” said Charles Leclerc of Ferrari. “And he was completely wrong.” McLaren's Lando Norris posted a Black Lives Matter engagement link. “This time,” he wrote to his 427,000 Twitter followers, “I'm asking you to do something and take action.” Daniel Ricciardo of Renault was even more energetic, unpacking his thoughts under an Instagram fresco that said: “Enough is enough”.
Hamilton wears a helmet on which is inscribed the phrase “Still I Rise”, a nod not to Maya Angelou but to Tupac Shakur. Photography: Boris Horvat / AFP / Getty Images
The online conversation, whatever you do, could be the most intense race conversation that has emerged since F1. Why it has been necessary so far to address the subject is not a mystery. It's history. The idea for a “Grand Prix” race owes its initial impetus to young black chain gang workers in Savannah, Georgia, who were beaten, tortured and made into makeshift slavery while carving and paving a 25-mile strip of dense woods and swamps for the inaugural showcase in 1908. Ferrari, the only F1 team to have been in the sport since its official start in 1950, began as an airplane engine manufacturer for the Fascist regime and proved so powerful that Benito Mussolini gave the founder Enzo the title of “Il Commendatore”, a title that became his nickname.
Hamilton's own team, Mercedes, who not only made huge profits with 40,000 forced laborers during the Third Reich, but also supplied Adolf Hitler's official trainers, was no better. Max Mosley, the lawyer who became a racing driver who chaired the governing body that oversaw F1 during the boom years of the 1990s and early 1990s, is the youngest son of the 1930s fascist Sir Oswald Mosley and socialite Diana Mitford; his secret marriage in October 1936 took place at the Joseph Goebbels house and counted Hitler himself among the guests of honor. From Michelin rubber to the gasoline hull, it would be difficult to name a feature of the modern Formula 1 show that was not based on complete subjugation and direct looting of the black and brown peoples. It is a good thing that sports stars finally recognize their white supremacy. But his sharp words alone will not be enough to reduce a 70-year lead.
If F1 really takes correcting the balance of justice seriously, the series could force teams to devote a significant portion of their $ 100 million R&D budgets to investing in STEM programs that would provide students. Don't aim for ramps in sports like engineers or aerodynamics. John F1 and Greg Maffei, U.S. F1 chiefs and two of the main contributors to Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, would not only reinvest their fortunes in black communities that could extend the reach of the sport, but also hold extreme prejudice. for the types of law enforcement who pay generously for their careers. They would abandon plans for the Grand Prix in Saudi Arabia and work instead to organize a Grand Prix in Ghana or Nigeria. Of course, most, if not all, of these general propositions are likely to encounter some form of resistance. But that has nothing to do with the kind of resistance a black man can face if he is unlucky enough to be arrested while driving his own Ferrari or Mercedes SUV, similar to the one George Floyd drove the day of. his illegal disappearance.
Whatever the direction of the sport on this new course, we can be sure that Hamilton is there to lead the way. In addition, you should be greatly encouraged to take the global justice movement to a major turning point. Now, when Hamilton denounces what Martin Luther King would call “the silence of our friends”, when Hamilton says: “I see you”, it is not only the F1 headlights who hear and tremble. We all do, and therefore we share the responsibility with Hamilton, a true world champion, to keep these new allies and all those who follow them after his words.