Thursday, April 18, 2024

Give ‘old guard’ no air time, Hamilton says

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Silverstone – Lewis Hamilton called for Formula 1’s old guard to be given no air time after 91-year-old former supremo Bernie Ecclestone and retired triple world champion Nelson Piquet drew fire for offensive comments.

Ecclestone defended Russian president Vladimir Putin in a television interview on Thursday as someone for whom he would “take a bullet”.

Brazilian Piquet, 69, apologised to seven-time world champion Hamilton this week for a racially offensive reference to the Briton in an interview carried out last November and that emerged recently.

Hamilton, Formula 1’s only Black driver who has been outspoken on human rights and diversity, said he had been on the receiving end of racism, negativity, undertones of discrimination, and “archaic narratives” for years.

“I don’t know why we are continuing to give these older voices a platform,” he told reporters at the British Grand Prix.

“They are speaking on our sport, and we are looking to go somewhere completely different, and it’s not representative of who we are as a sport now.”

He added: “We are looking to grow in the U.S. and other countries and South Africa and grow our audience. We need to be looking to the future and giving the younger people a platform more representative of today’s time.

“In the last couple of weeks, I don’t think a day’s gone by without some of the older (ones) who have not been relevant in our sport for decades saying negative things and trying to bring me down.”

Ecclestone’s comments on the war in Ukraine, and referring to Putin as “a first-class person”, provoked astonishment with British foreign secretary Liz Truss calling them “absolutely extraordinary”.

Formula 1 said they were “in very stark contrast to the position of the modern values of our sport”.

Hamilton said he could not believe what he had heard.

“To hear from someone that ultimately believes in the war, the displacement of millions of people and killing of thousands of people, the person that’s doing that, they support them,” he said. “That’s beyond me.”

(Reuters)

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