Lewis Hamilton attended the 2022 British Grand Prix Thursday Drivers’ Press Conference. Here is the full transcript!
Q: Lewis coming to you. After all the negativity this week, what an apposite moment to announce the first grants of the Ignite Partnership, which you set up with Mercedes a year ago. Please tell us more.
Lewis HAMILTON: Yeah, well, hi, everyone, it’s good to see everybody. Very proud of the work that we are doing as a team. Basically, when I sat down with Toto a year ago I said that I don’t want to just be a driver for the team anymore, I feel it’s important that we start looking to what we’re doing both inside, but also outside of the sport. And so part of the contract was commitment from them and commitment from myself financially to put into Ignite, and to work on how… With the work that I did with the Hamilton Commission, working on seeing how we can get more young girls involved in our sport, and just working on how we can, for example, one of the things that we’re working on is having 10 Black students given scholarships for motorsport. And not only that, once they graduate, have a role, either with us in our team, but also within the sport. And I think we’re just living in a time where there’s been a lot of people that have said they’re supportive through these last couple of years, but a lot of [it is] lip service, and we are not doing that. We’re actually about action. We’re putting our money where our mouth is. So yeah, I’m really proud. I think we need to get everyone naturally on board to do something, because we can’t do it alone.
Q: Many congratulations, Lewis on that. And just in terms of performance, what are you expecting from the upgraded W13 this weekend?
LH: It is always nice having upgrades. The amount of incredible work that goes on in the background is quite overwhelming. And it’s phenomenal to see just everyone with their heads down staying focused and delivering. And it’s always a big push to bring these components to a race, particularly under the circumstances we’re all faced with this year, in terms of the cost cap, for example. So I’m very proud of everyone, very grateful for everyone’s incredible hard work and I hope that it reflects when we put it on the track, because earlier on in the year, for example, we did put an upgrade on and weren’t able to extract it all. So I hope that that’s different this time.
If you like SilverArrows.Net, consider supporting us by buying us a coffee!
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (David Croft – Sky Sports F1) Lewis, good to see you here today. It’s been it’s been a difficult week once again for you and I’m sure not for the first time in your life. It’s been great to see the whole paddock come out in support of yourself and against the comments by Nelson Piquet. He has apologised. Is that the end of the matter now, or would you like to see further action taken and how do you feel about that apology?
LH: What are you doing here? You’re never in this room.
Q: (David Croft – Sky Sports F1) We’re allowed now. Honestly it’s not just because you’re here today. And I’ve missed you all these years.
LH: Okay. All right. Back to the serious question. So what was the question exactly? Is it over? Firstly, I’m incredibly grateful to all those that have been supportive within the sport, particularly the drivers, you know. It’s been two years since we, many of us took the knee at the first race in Austria. And, of course, we’re still faced with the challenges. I mean, I’ve been on the receiving end of racism and criticism and that negativity in archaic narratives for a long, long time, you know, and undertones of discrimination. So, there’s nothing really particularly new for me. I think it’s more about the bigger picture. I mean, I’m not really sure… I don’t know why we are continuing to give these older voices a platform. Because they’re speaking on our sport, and we’re looking to go somewhere completely different and it’s not representative, I think, of who we are as a sport now and where are we planning to go? If we’re looking to be to grow in the US and other countries, South Africa, and grow our audience, we need to be looking to the future and giving the young younger people a platform that is more representative of today’s time, and to who we are trying to be and the direction that we’re going. So it’s not just about one individual. It’s not about just that one use of that term. It’s the bigger picture.
Q: (Craig Slater – Sky Sports News) Just picking up on that with you Lewis if I can. Are you happy the statements from the FIA and F1 were strong enough a response? And given you have suffered this kind of thing throughout your career, even five years ago might it not have been called out, this kind of thing? And is that some kind of progress?
LH: I mean, it’s now a knee-jerk reaction really, from companies all around the world, when something like this happens, they probably already have… I’m not saying that we do, but I’m just saying, you’ve got to imagine that everyone’s PR agency or PR people, have already a script ready for something like that, crisis management. It’s not enough. Now it’s about actual real action. We’ve got to actually start acting and as I said, it just comes back down to… I put to F1, to the media, we should not be giving these people a platform. These old voices are… whether they subconsciously or consciously do not agree that people like me, for example, should be in a sport like this, do not agree that women should be here. Discrimination is not something we should be projecting and promoting and giving a platform to create and divide people… We need more than ever… We’re living in such a difficult time in the world, we need people to be bringing people together. You know, we are all the same. And it is not helpful, the comments that we’re seeing from these people. The last couple of weeks, I don’t think a day’s gone by where there’s not been someone from some of the older [people] that have not really been in our sport or relevant in our sport for decades, trying to say negative things and trying to bring me down, but I’m still here, I’m still standing strong and I’m focused on my work, and really trying to push for diversity, inclusion within our organisation. We really need F1 and all the teams that have committed to signing this F1 charter that I’ve done that work with the Hamilton Commission, to work and also to put funds towards D&I. It’s not good enough just saying we are also focused on it and just lip service. We really need to push for action and that’s why I’m proud of the first step we’ve done with Ignite and that’s not the end of it, that’s just the beginning. I’ve got Mission 44 up and running. I’ve got a whole team of people there to really focus on it. I’ve got my own money in that and I’m out trying to raise money also to try and really push this… I’ve got partnerships with Sky. There’s a lot of great work that’s happening, but we need more and I can’t do it alone.
Q: (Dieter Rencken – RacingNews365.com) Lewis, your Hamilton Commission and the Ignite initiative announced today, without in any way being at all critical, they’re both aimed at basically British citizens. Equally, the Formula 1 project announced last year is also British and some European, yet ironically, those are the two regions where it’s easiest for fans to get into Formula 1 as a profession, as a driver, engineer, whatever. Should these not spread beyond these European boundaries and go out to 90% of the rest of the world?
LH: Thank you for that question and yes. But ultimately I couldn’t do the research, when I did the Hamilton Commission, I couldn’t do it for every country and the goal is to expand the work, particularly with Mission 44, expand across Europe and into the States but that’s going to take a little bit longer. So initially, the focus was on the UK. Obviously, motor sport is huge here and that’s where I’m from, so that’s the first target but I would like it to go across the water. But there are different challenges in different countries, right, but there’s so much opportunity for growth, there’s so much opportunity all over for improvement. So, yes, I would definitely like to take those steps and I plan to do that with Mission 44, it’s just trying to get underway because it takes time to change, right? It takes time to see growth and improvement. So I’ve got a whole team now that I’m working with, a lot of my time is spent on Zoom calls, just working on the agreements that we came up with the Hamilton Commission and how we can implement them, different organisations that are already on the ground, in underserved communities, and how we can support them more. And there’s a lot of great work that’s being done, a lot of them are underfunded and we need more funding, always, as you know, so yeah, I’m committed to that.
Q: (Alan Baldwin – Reuters) Lewis, I apologise for taking the conversation away from much more serious matters but amongst all the controversies that have been bubbling around there is the subject of jewellery. I just wondered if you could update us on where you are with the FIA on that, and whether it’s business as usual this weekend, regarding your piercings and other jewellery in the cockpit?
LH: With all due respect, it’s kind of crazy to think that, with everything that’s going on in the world, that is a focus for people. And I would say it’s worrying that we’ve got so much bigger fish to fry… I use fish to fry because… I’m vegan, so we don’t fry fish, but you know what I mean. But, yes, we’ve got we’ve really got to start focusing on other more important areas. I will be racing this weekend, I will be working with the FIA. I would say the matter is not particularly massively important. So I will work with Mohammed and with his team so that we can progress forwards.
Q: (Andy Dunn – Daily Mirror) Lewis, you mentioned the older voices and you mentioned, say, the past two weeks we’ve had obviously the stuff that Bernie Ecclestone said today, Nelson Piquet, even Sir Jackie Stewart, of course, was saying it was time you retired. These presumably were guys that you once had a lot of respect for Has that respect gone now?
LH: Well, I’ve always tried to take the high road and I’ve always tried to be respectful to these individuals. And again, just going back, I think it ties back to what I was saying before, just why do we give these guys a platform? They’re not with the times, they’re clearly not willing to change. And these undertones of discrimination and microaggressions are just in today’s world are just not helpful and just creative more divide than not. I love how Michelle Obama says when they go low, we go high. So I try to continue to do that. I’m inspired by people like that. And that’s not… as I said, I’m still here. It’s not going to deter me from doing what I think is right and doing what I love, which is working in the sport.
Q: (Claire Cottingham – Racefans.net) Lewis, another question for you. I just wondered how we work to get more people included, you know, diversity-wise, if they are to face such hate when they come in and obviously as a woman, I get quite a lot as well and there’s plenty of people out there. How do we get more people to be involved if this is what we face?
LH: Well, not to sound like a broken record, but I think it is, again, just accountability is important. And it’s just with F1. And also with your companies, you know, it’s really making sure we take a stand and we’re not giving these people that platform. And we want people to be able to… inclusivity is so important. We want people to be able to be themselves in our space and it’s all well and good standing on the grid, and they talk about all the inclusivity, and all the other four or five things, I would say but they’re just empty words, if we’re not actually putting action in. This is a growing business, there’s more money, teams are making more money than they’ve ever made before. And they’ll continue to grow in doing so. But we get to see real funds from… I mean, I’m not aware of all the other funds that have been put towards D&I, but I’d be willing to bet it’s not as much as we firstly already put in and are planning to put in. And as I said, I’ve been on calls with all the F1 teams who all agreed to be a part of this F1 charter and it’s still not signed and it’s still not underway. But no more can we be amplifying these voices that are just creating that divide out there. We’ve got people high up in governments that are just creating more and more divide. America’s just gone back 50 years, you know, and with everything that’s happened here in the UK we’ve gone backwards, and people are really struggling out there so we’ve all got to pull together.
Q: (Phil Duncan – PA) Lewis I know earlier on you mentioned about the older voices being given a platform but this week Red Bull sacked their reserve driver who’s in his early 20s for using a racist term. So do you think that’s a coincidence? Or do you think that Formula 1 actually has a racism problem?
LH: I think we are living still within the world, there’s still discrimination throughout the world so it’s still clearly all around us. You see it on social, you see it, again, these microaggressions that continue to come out and enough is enough. As I said, I’ve tried to take that higher road and avoid it but no one should have to brush off racism and it shouldn’t be for me to have to brush it off. So we need to know we need organisations, big organisations to take a stand.
Q: (Ben Hunt – The Sun) A couple of questions: Lewis, just wondering if you could talk us through the examples that you get on a daily basis of the racism put at your door through social media and whatnot?
LH: Specific examples? So many of us have… you know, even Nicholas has experienced that abuse on social media, which is not a great space. There’s a lot of negativity and hate through there but I try not to give that stuff attention. So in general, it’s like anything, it’s a small group of people, I’d say that, I guess, are ultimately ignorant and it’s time for us to commit to learning and improving. But as you know, and going back to just… it’s been kind of overwhelming to see the great support that I’ve had from my fellow colleagues here. And some of the teams and the sport. And it’s… we’ve already seen it, last year, I think after this race, you saw the stuff that was online, and how that the sport did react. But now, that’s not enough, we’ve got to do more. Also, with the social media platforms, we need to start putting on them. They still haven’t done enough, when we were calling out for them to make changes.
Q: (Oliver Brown – The Telegraph) Just a couple of points to Lewis. I just wanted… with all the remarks that there have been since the last race whether from Bernie Ecclestone or from Nelson Piquet, you’ve reached the point where you’ve kind of had it with the old establishment. And secondly, you say that we shouldn’t be giving them a platform but how, practically, do you do that? I mean, Bernie Ecclestone ran the sport for decades and he’s not somebody who can easily be censored.
LH: What I said earlier on, I think enough is enough, and that’s why we have to really push for action. But I mean, this is the question I put to you guys: why? Why give the… I mean, I think this was, what was it… Good Morning… BBC…? [Correction: ITV’s Good Morning Britain]. I mean, there needs to be some accountability. You know what you’re going to get with that and I don’t know what their goal is, if they were seeking to create divide, here in the UK, we don’t need any more of it. To hear from someone that ultimately believes in the war, the displacement of millions of people, in the killing of thousands of people, the person that’s doing that, they support them? I mean, that’s beyond me. And I can’t believe that’s what I heard today. And ultimately, it’s disappointing. It’s affecting not only all those people out there, but it’s affecting all the countries around the world, and it’s affecting people here in the UK. And it’s going to continue to affect us for… this is going to put us back decades, I think. But we have yet to see the real brunt of the pain that it’s going to cause the world. So why? We don’t need to be supporting that anymore. We’ve got to be looking to the future. We need more positivity in the world and there are plenty of people out there that are positive and if you’ve got nothing positive to contribute to where we want to be going and who we want to be, don’t give them the space.