Lewis Hamilton: FIA to clarify rules on anti-racism shirts

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer
Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton wore this T-shirt before and after the Tuscan Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton says he expects to be told he cannot wear a T-shirt bearing anti-racism messages on the podium.

At the last race in Tuscany Hamilton wore a T-shirt referencing the killing of Breonna Taylor by US police.

But governing body the FIA is set to publish a ruling saying the podium should be preserved as a neutral space.

Hamilton said at the Russian Grand Prix: “I did something that has never really happened in F1 and obviously they will stop it moving forwards.”

The FIA is expected to issue what it regards as a clarification of a long-time convention after the drivers are informed of its position at their briefing after Friday practice.

It is expected to say that drivers can continue to wear T-shirts supporting anti-racism before the race and during the pre-race demonstration, but that on the podium only their race suits will be allowed.

Hamilton’s T-shirt at Mugello said: “Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor.”

Taylor was a black woman shot multiple times as officers stormed her home in Louisville, Kentucky, in March. The case is one of a number that has been at the centre of civil rights protests in the US.

On Wednesday, authorities in the US decided not to charge any of the police officers involved with her killing, a decision that led to sports stars across the world, including Hamilton, expressing their disappointment.

Hamilton said in Sochi on Thursday: “I don’t regret a single moment of it [his protest]. I usually follow my heart and do what I feel is right.

“People talk about sport not being a place for politics. Ultimately, it’s a human rights issue and in my opinion that is something we should be pushing towards.

“We have a huge collective group of amazing people who watch our sport from multiple different backgrounds and cultures. We should definitely be pushing positive messages towards them, especially for equality.

“We push towards road safety and you could say that is human rights. I don’t know what they are going to do this weekend.

“But lots of rules have been written for me over the years and that hasn’t stopped me. What I will do is continue to work with F1 and the FIA to make sure the messaging is right. It could always be better but that’s part of the learning curve.”

Hamilton said he “hoped” the FIA understood the seriousness of the situation involving discrimination against non-white people in society and the lack of diversity in motorsport.

He added: “As a business and organisation they have certain limits they feel they have to work within. They are trying to make everyone happy and do the right thing.

“This is a learning process for everyone. People have been happy with the norm here of how life and society has operated but ultimately the world and the younger generation are more conscious that things aren’t equal and change is needed.

“It does take conversations with people and things like Mugello happening for people to spark a conversation that perhaps would never have taken place if it didn’t happen.

“I haven’t spoken to them but I heard tomorrow [Friday] they will come out with a new ruling saying what you can and cannot do.

“I will try to continue to work with them. Whether I agree or disagree is irrelevant, it is trying to find a common ground in how we can do it together maybe.

"Do I believe they fully understand? I don’t know. But perhaps in the future we all will to the same extent.”