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Lewis Hamilton

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It’s so important to go back [to the African continent]. At the moment, Formula 1 goes to countries and doesn’t really leave much behind, if anything. Formula 1 has to shift into being a sport that does go to places and leaves behind something that can really help the communities, and I think bringing first the attention back into Africa and really highlighting the beautiful place that it is, I think that is the most important place that we have to go to.
—Lewis Hamilton, speaking of F1 returning to Africa in the future.[1]
He's earned the right without any question at all, through talent, through adversity, hard-work, personal risk and winning six world championships in Formula 1 to stand up and say the things he said. I'm proud of him and pleased that he did, I support him in every way. He's certainly made me stop and think it all through.
—Martin Brundle[2]

Sir Lewis Carl Davidson "#Blessed" Hamilton[note 1] (1985–) is a British, current Formula One driver and undisputed legend in the sport, as a seven time World Drivers' Champion, with the most wins ever recorded in the sport's history.[3]

Hamilton has also recently taken up a more profound side in social activism, especially in the light of tackling racism in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. Given that the racism was directed towards him during his career,[note 2] this is only understandable, and, despite his newness to the sport, he has managed to do some truly brilliant things, creating the We Race As One campaign in F1 and taking a bold stance in the face of worldwide inequality. Despite the occasional blip, he has done very well in the past year.

Of course, this kind of action attracts the hard righters and, sometimes more rarely, hard lefters, who claim that he has no idea what he is doing, and would, said directly or indirectly, rather just see him as a racing driver. Obviously, this proves Hamilton's point, and Toto Wolff himself has backed Hamilton's right to use his platform.[4] Of course, there is legitimate criticism that could come Hamilton's way, but it unfortunately gets washed in a flood of colossal stupidity, that civil discourse melts. Unfortunately for them, Hamilton is exceptional at blocking out unflattering hatred coming his way.[5]

But regardless, Hamilton's use of platform should not be shot down as entitlement. It also should not be mixed with his racing, as he is ultimately a very competitive person, and no driver should need to hide it on the grid. Arguments about his racing should not be used to veto serious points that he makes.

Positions[edit]

Racial Equality[edit]

Hamilton's primary position of note is his advocating for racial equality. This was spurred on by the killing of George Floyd, which, combined with previous racism directed at him, fueled him to use his platform. Along with other drivers, such as Charles Leclerc,Wikipedia Lando Norris,Wikipedia and Daniel Ricciardo,Wikipedia he spoke out against the atrocity, while he urged F1 as an industry to speak out in turn.[6] After wearing a shirt in support for Breonna TaylorWikipedia at the Tuscan GP, Hamilton also made it clear that his stance was one of civil rights, and that he would not be stopped by the FIA or F1 themselves.[7] Surprisingly, F1 ignored the iron law of institutions and aided Hamilton in the setup of the We Race As One initiative, as well as setting up a task force for combating these issues in the sport.[8] Even the FIA did not stop him in this move. Given the platform that F1 has around the world, a serious show of solidarity means more than small-scale events, hence why the ambition of the initiative is so impressive. Even Martin Brundle was notably impressed with the response from Mercedes themselves, who flipped the colours of their racing overalls and livery for the entire 2020 season.[9]

F1's Return to Africa[edit]

Hamilton has also been an advocate for F1's return to the African continent. For some history, F1 initially raced in South Africa on a yearly basis, however, drivers and the teams in turn, were becoming sick of the apartheid atrocity in the country, and would ultimately boycott the race. Liger and Renualt effectively were banned by the French Government from racing in South Africa, which broke the back of races in the country.[10] Even the few races after apartheid could not build lasting momentum and there has not been a race in the continent since 1993.

On a fan question Friday with PETRONAS Motorsports, the largest sponsor of the Mercedes F1 team, Lewis voiced a strong desire to return to Africa.[11] He highlighted a desire in equal part for the sport to leave something behind in the visited countries, which would be especially important and useful for Africa, a continent left behind after the lasting damage of the scramble for Africa. Fortunately, the higher-ups at F1 are looking into the matter, either in South Africa again or possibly the city of Marrakech in Morocco.[12] The potential for F1 to move beyond entertainment is something extremely important, given how large a sport it is.

Climate Change and related issues[edit]

Hamilton is a strong campaigner for action to combat climate change. He is not an unknowing hypocrite, as he and Wolff have pushed for the Mercedes team to become carbon neutral as quickly as possible, even sooner than the FIA target of 2030.[13] He has remained undeterred by criticism to this (see below), and has constantly tried to encourage F1 to make more moves towards environmentally-friendly production, and praised them for using hybrid technology and less overall fuel.[14] Hamilton is constantly working to improve his habits, and is not your usual celebrity hard green type,[note 3] in the way that he states one need not be perfect to be part of the solution.[15] Indeed, he has sold his private jet and possibly, since 2019 anyway, has sold off most of his car collection.[16]

Falling into this bubble also is a commitment to veganism, as well as a rightful hammer down at trophy hunting.[17] His animal rights activism is certainly honorable, but his veganism goes a little too close to the border of crankery (see below).

Criticism[edit]

Hamilton is, like many an activist, on the receiving end of some very bizarre, almost parody-level criticism. The most common ones are...

He's too aggressive on the track![edit]

No, you aren't reading this wrong; some like to claim that any show of on track competitiveness means that Hamilton cannot speak on world issues. This seems to stem from certain behaviours, such as his comments about his car, which could be attributed as complaining.[5] The problem with this logic is, obviously, his on-track behaviour has nothing to do with his behaviour outside. Hamilton is not a dirty driver and never has been, which means you cannot correlate the two.[note 4] Despite this almost being fumes out of the exhaust of reasons to try and discredit Hamilton, it seems to be weirdly common.

This is an extended problem in many sports, where any sign of tense competitiveness or sporting aggression is confused with moral repulsiveness. A good F1 example happened with Lando Norris, a usually pretty relaxed personality, who made some slightly blunt comments about Hamilton's record breaking 92nd win, and his crash with Lance Stroll, of which he later apologised honestly for as "stupid and careless".[18] The same logic applies to Hamilton; competitiveness in sport does not equal one being badly behaved in outside life, with extreme levels of dirty driving being the exception.

It's almost unreal that this has to be explained, but here we document.

Sporting people and athletes should just do their sport[edit]

For many reasons, anywhere from prejudice to denialism in this case, athletes are pretty much gagged in free speech because apparently they are objectified for "entertainment-only", so therefore they must not upset anyone, for the good of all. Just one problem: athletes are real people, often with real experiences, and Hamilton has by far one of the strongest causes. He is not only the first full-time black driver in F1, but has also suffered racial abuse on a constant basis throughout his career, most infamously in Spain 2008.[19] If he cannot speak on this experience, it just means a painfully slower road to promoting inclusivity in motorsport, not least when Bernie Ecclestone loomed over the Formula One Group. Surprisingly, the world isn't all sunshine, and if any athlete can use their experiences to help others, then they should be able to.

The argument functions as a bizarre reversal of argumentum ad populum or appeal to authority, where it be assumed that no person in sport has any experiences to speak of, and they're "just arrogant celebrities". Fact is, people in sport tend to often have more to say, as they have had to work extremely hard to become as good as they are, while suffering perhaps all amount of adversity (but then you can sometimes get the other side, which is formed in arrogance). Obviously, don't listen to every athlete you see, but Hamilton clearly has a good reason to fight for the causes he does.

He can't speak on climate change and be an F1 driver![edit]

Actually, somehow, surprisingly, he can. As mentioned earlier, Hamilton is very aware of the environmental implications of F1, and perhaps his biggest example of true environmental concern is a push for a carbon neutral Mercedes team.[13] If anything, his position is more important rather than less. In a sport so large with such heavy use of resource, it's important that people push to make the sport better, and perhaps there is no one better than someone as influential as Lewis Hamilton, a now septuple World Champion. What? Hamilton alone is not enough? Then, listen also to future Aston Martin Team driver, and four-time World Champion of Formula One, Sebastian Vettel:Wikipedia

Formula 1 is a worldwide sport, and a worldwide operating platform. So with all the facts that are available to us today, you cannot neglect what is happening in the world and ignore what is happening in the world. That would be just stupid. So it is fair to ask opinions and so on, and obviously a lot of people are following F1 and are inspired by F1, and I think F1 should do a lot more than what we're currently doing to set a course for the future. If you're black and white [in approach] you say that it's bad what we do for the environment, because we drive around in cars and we burn fuel. Obviously, F1 has the opportunity to develop engine formulas, technologies and so on, that will help us, that will help mobility and transport in the future to make it more efficient, etc. At the moment we have a very efficient engine, but it's questionable how much of that efficiency will find its way onto the road. So I think overall F1 does have a responsibility, and I think each one of us has a responsibility to lead, to lead by example, and that is why I feel we should do a lot more. We should be the first ones and not just have the highest standards in terms of performance, in terms of cars, in terms of competition, racing, entertainment, but also set the highest standards in terms of thinking ahead and looking after our future, the planet's future, the future of the sport and all this. I think it is all linked.[20]

Vettel puts it pretty eloquently[note 5] that F1 ultimately has a huge platform that allows it to lead in sustainable development. Shutting down either him or Hamilton for knowing, and trying to make better of, the sport's implications is effectively a way to make climate change rhetoric even worse.

Commie! or He's too left wing![edit]

Classic example of red-baiting. Since F1 is a euro-centric sport, there is thankfully not a colossal influx of people claiming a Marxist agenda. There is a much more common bait though, look down a bit…

Black Lives Matter is a political agenda[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Black Lives Matter

And here it is. As usual, there are people claiming Black Lives Matter is entirely politically motivated.

Quick clear up: First, Lewis has stated firmly it isn't political, and we must not forget the racism directed towards him through his entire career.[7] Two, if you still think this, just read the smear tactics section of our article on this.

He doesn't pay tax, so he cannot preach generosity[edit]

For context, Hamilton lives in Monaco, as with many race drivers, frequently cited a tax haven.

However, claiming Hamilton doesn't pay tax is deceitful at best and outright slander at worst. It has been confirmed that Lewis Hamilton is among the top 5,000 of UK taxpayers.[21] For reference, there are over 60,000,000 people in the UK, so that's no small feat. Even beyond this, Hamilton's charity work is extremely large and profound. The charity in his name has donated to Save the Children, the Honeypot, Children's Charity, Great Ormond Street Hospital, UNICEF, Education Africa, and the Harlem Children's Zone.[22] He could easily not do this charity work, he could easily avoid paying UK tax, given his residence, but the point is he does. This criticism is based entirely on a lie-based presumption, which is the mark of zero validity.

Reasonable Criticism[edit]

Okay, okay, but what about reasonable criticism directed his way?

Some have criticised Hamilton for not speaking enough on the oppressive governments of locations such as Bahrain, and other places like Russia that F1 race in yearly.[23] Bahrain, which we will used as example, lied through their teeth when Hamilton asked F1 to do more. The point of note is that Hamilton himself doesn't say how oppressive some of the countries are, which does seem valid. However, it's worth noting that not many people fully understand the extreme levels of oppression in these countries. The FIA and F1 by extension can only protect their drivers so much from danger, and this is likely why Hamilton has not directly done a verbal clamp down on any of these countries. It's extremely risky to do so, and ultimately F1 must themselves take the lead for real criticism to be heard. This criticism could come off as silly to any frequent reader of the Wiki, but one part our mission exists because authoritarianism is so poorly documented in media.

However, there is a real point to criticise the larger extent of Hamilton's veganism on some fronts. First of all, he has made the claim that veganism has eradicated his energy dips.[24] There is, of course, no scientific evidence to suggest such. Perhaps more willing to be met with harsh criticism is Hamilton's decision to put Roscoe, his dog, on a vegan diet, which is ultimately a way for Roscoe to have digestive problems in the future.[25] This has drafted substantial criticism from experts, of course.[26] This does not mean he cannot pursue veganism, but these two ideas are largely misleading in their core.

Verdict[edit]

Ultimately, Hamilton stands for very good causes, and it's only his veganism woo which needs a serious amount of discussion. He is very much correct in the manner that motorsport, and notably F1, must be world leaders in the pursuit of environmentalism and civil liberty. If they can innovate for the former, it stands to reason that it can happen lower down the chain. For the latter, if F1 aimed to leave something more in the visited countries, the impacts it may have are simply unbelievable. It stands to reason that F1 can be more, so the FIA should consider making it something more, a force for good.

Lewis Hamilton is a great figure to lead this way. He is not perfect, of course, but he clearly has a sense of direction he wishes the FIA to take Formula One, and one that could better the world in many, many ways.

Notes[edit]

  1. He has a knighthood, the youngest driver in F1 to get such at 35 — In case you're outside the UK, don't be too excited: Someone with inherited wealth and a loony family tapped him on the shoulder with the blunt end of sword, and now he is "sir".
  2. Hamilton is biracial and identifies as Black.[3]
  3. Thank fuck. There is too many of them.
  4. This would be the case usually with someone like, say, Nikita Mazepin, who has less-than-satisfactory on-track behaviour, and has had numerous controversies out of F2.
  5. He's very good at getting meaning across with words. Jordan Peterson should be taking notes.

References[edit]

  1. Africa the "most important" place F1 has to go - Hamilton. GP Fans
  2. Brundle: Hamilton has 'earned the right' to lash out against racism. GPTODAY.net
  3. 3.0 3.1 See the Wikipedia article on Lewis Hamilton.
  4. Wolff has no qualms with Hamilton being "polarising". motorsport.com
  5. 5.0 5.1 Why do people hate Lewis Hamilton? DRIVETRIBE
  6. F1 drivers respond to Lewis Hamilton criticism over silence on George Floyd death. The Independent
  7. 7.0 7.1 Lewis Hamilton says BLM protest is human rights issue, not about politics. The Guardian
  8. Lewis Hamilton prompts F1 to launch We Race As One to combat racism and hail key workers. Express
  9. Martin Brundle: Very impressive initiative and statement
  10. On this day in F1 - Mansell won a controversial South African Grand Prix. WTF1
  11. FAN QUESTION FRIDAY - PETRONAS Motorsports YouTube Channel
  12. Return to Africa a priority for F1 owners. motorsport.com
  13. 13.0 13.1 Mercedes plan to be carbon neutral by end of 2020. planetf1
  14. Lewis Hamilton brushes off critics and steps up efforts to be more green. The Guardian
  15. Lewis Hamilton opens up on being criticised for fighting climate change as an F1 driver and coping with defeat. The Independent
  16. Formula One: Lewis Hamilton sells private jet, pares down luxury car collection, in bid to be carbon neutral by year end. The Straits Times
  17. Why Is F1 Driver Lewis Hamilton Vegan? LIVEKINDLY
  18. Lando Norris apologises after comments about Lewis Hamilton and Lance Stroll. BBC
  19. Racing Fans in Spain Wear Blackface to Taunt Lewis Hamilton. B.W.I.E
  20. Vettel: F1 would be "just stupid" to ignore climate change. yahoo!sport
  21. New Year Honours List 2020: Is Lewis Hamilton getting a Knighthood? METRO
  22. Will Lewis Hamilton get a knighthood? F1 star's tax status is 'misunderstood', claims Motorsport UK chief. iNews
  23. Hamilton: F1 must do more to tackle human rights abuses. ESPN
  24. Lewis Hamilton says going vegan 'eradicates' energy dips. The Independent
  25. Khuky, Patti. One Vet's Advice: Don't Force Your Pet to Be Vegan. Vetstreet, July 15, 2014.
  26. Lewis Hamilton faces criticism over dog Roscoe’s vegan diet from animal experts. METRO