Lewis Hamilton has been hailed by former F1 driver Karun Chandhok after using his platform to condemn racism.
Lewis Hamilton is “absolutely right” to use his standing in the world of sport to sharpen the focus on the Black Lives Matter movement. That is the opinion of former F1 driver Karun Chandhok, who has praised the reigning champion’s decision to put pressure on his on-track rivals to make their voices heard.
Hamilton is supporting anti-racism protests across the world via social media and last week used Instagram to call out drivers who had opted to stay silent.
The 35-year-old is the figurehead of the sport and this week has received the backing of F1 managing director of motorsport Ross Brawn for speaking out.
Chandhok, who raced with HRT and Lotus in F1, has now hailed Hamilton for throwing his weight behind the activism.
And he’s explained why he believes the Mercedes star was right to put pressure on his fellow drivers – even if it made people in the F1 paddock uncomfortable.
“I think he was absolutely right to go to the forefront and say things publicly,” said Chandhok, during an appearance on The F1 Show on Sky Sports News. “But I also think he was right to call out the rest of the paddock and the rest of the sport.
“I spoke with a number of people within the sport who felt it was a bit unfair because they didn’t believe they were racist and thought he was making generalisations – but I think they missed the point.
“Lewis’ point seemed to be that it’s not enough to be non-racist, he’s calling for people within the sport to be actively anti-racist. He was right.
“Those, like drivers, who have a lot of followers on social media, need to be actively speaking up to raise awareness of racial biases which do exist and to make the wider world look for signs in everyday life.
“Ross mentioned on our show that Lewis is an excellent ambassador for the sport, something I agree with, and I thought this was another clear sign of that.”
F1 chief Brawn vowed to help increase diversity in the sport in the wake of Hamilton’s comments.
And Chandhok reckons the former Benetton and Ferrari chief is spot on to be targeting the next generation of would-be drivers.
“I think Ross hit the nail on the head, it has to come from the grassroots level,” Chandhok said. “I think he’s definitely on the right path, in terms of starting at karting and F1 at schools.
“This is a generational shift that’s needed. Our kids, hopefully, will grow up in a society and a world where people are more conscious of racial biases and are thinking about it, picking up the small signs. I think that’s really important.”