Should drivers speak out?

Autosport.com reports that world champion driver Lewis Hamilton has criticized his F1 peers for ‘staying silent’ amid the ongoing global protests against racial injustice (Hamilton criticises “silent” industry amid racial injustice protests).  I’m not sure about you, but I don’t expect drivers or even other sports stars, actors, musicians, etc to express their opinions regarding politics, world events and so on.  They may be good at what they do, they may be leaders in their sport/industry but they are not necessarily people we should look to for opinion or leadership in other matters of life.

Hamilton is reported to have said, “I see those of you who are staying silent, some of you the biggest stars yet you stay silent in the midst of injustice.”

“Not a sign from anybody in my industry which of course is a white dominated sport. I’m one of the only people of colour there yet I stand alone.

“I would have thought by now you would see why this happens and say something about it but you can’t stand alongside us.  Just know I know who you are and I see you.”

I’m not sure if Lewis has got this one right.  Judge your peers on what goes on in the F1 paddock, express your views on discrimination in motorsport and I will listen. Maybe it’s a bit harsh to be critical about what happens outside the circuit and expecting others to give an opinion as well.

The problem is that when sports people take a political stand, they can set themselves up for a fall.  Look at the English football leagues players that took part in TV adverts telling people to stay at home during the COVID-19 lockdown in the UK, only to be caught out themselves.

If a sports star is going to take a political stand or express an opinion on one matter, then they need to be prepared to stand up for others. 

Will Lewis speak out about racial injustice and human rights in China, Bahrain, Russia and Baku which host Formula One Grand Prix?

Drivers should drive, actors should act, musicians should play and sing.  I don’t have a political expectation on them and I don’t look for their opinions on matters of life. In saying that, we have both voiced our opinions, one a scribe and the other a multiple world champion.

Benjamin Carrell

Benjamin Carrell is a freelance motorsport writer and currently edits talkmotorsport.co.nz. He writes for a number of Kiwi drivers and motorsport clubs. That's when he's not working in his horticultural day-job or training for the next road or mtb cycle race!

http://talkmotorsport.co.nz

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