Lewis Hamilton in hot water over anti-racism T-shirt and 'offensive' comments about race safety

Telegraph Sport
·3-min read
Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP wears a shirt in tribute to the late Breonna Taylor on the grid before the F1 Grand Prix of Tuscany at Mugello Circuit on September 13, 2020 in Scarperia, Italy -  Mario Renzi - Formula 1
Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP wears a shirt in tribute to the late Breonna Taylor on the grid before the F1 Grand Prix of Tuscany at Mugello Circuit on September 13, 2020 in Scarperia, Italy - Mario Renzi - Formula 1

Lewis Hamilton is in hot water with Formula One's governing body for an anti-racism shirt and for comments he made about the management of Sunday's Tuscan Grand Prix.

A spokesperson for the FIA confirmed that they are looking into whether he broke rules about the display of political messages, by wearing a shirt that read: "Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor". Taylor was an American woman shot dead by police earlier this year.

Hamilton explained after the race, which he won, that he had worn the shirt to "bring awareness to the fact there are people being killed on the street".

It is unclear what rules Hamilton might have broken but Formula One regulations prohibit drivers from "affixing to their automobiles advertising that is political or religious in nature or that is prejudicial to the interests of the FIA".

Watch: Lewis Hamilton raises fist on podium after winning Styrian Grand Prix

In a seperate development, the British driver has also been told by Formula One’s governing body that his accusation they endangered lives in the Tuscan Grand Prix is “offensive”.

The FIA have taken a dim view of Hamilton’s incendiary remark which the six-time world champion made in the aftermath of Sunday’s crash-strewn race at Mugello.

Hamilton felt the lights on the safety car were turned off too late in a deliberate ploy to back up the field and spice up the restart. The switching off of the flashing bulbs indicate when the race is resuming. A huge pile-up ensued after the safety car peeled into the pits.

Hamilton said: “They are trying to make it more exciting but today they put people at risk. It was over the limit. It wasn’t safe.”

But responding to Hamilton’s remarks, FIA race director Michael Masi rubbished the Briton’s claim.

“From an FIA perspective, safety is paramount, full stop, end of story,” he said. “We are absolutely not trying to spice up the show. In my capacity as race director, my role is sporting integrity and safety and anyone that says otherwise to that is actually quite offensive.”

Hamilton also said there needs to be a rethink as to how the safety car is used.

But Masi, the Australian who succeeded Charlie Whiting following his death last year, added: “Simply put, the drivers can criticise all they want, but if we look where the lights were extinguished on the safety car to the control line [where the race resumes] the distance was similar if not longer than a number of other venues.

“We have the 20 best drivers in the world, but in the Formula Three race, those drivers in the junior category had a very similar restart to what occurred in the Formula One race and they navigated it without incident.

“I don’t think there is any need to review the safety car restart rule.”

Despite the chaotic nature of Sunday’s race Hamilton claimed his sixth win from nine rounds this season to extend his championship lead over Valtteri Bottas to 55 points.

Hamilton also moved to within one victory of Michael Schumacher’s record with his 90th career win.

He will be given his first shot at matching Schumacher’s record at the Sochi Autodrom in Russia a week on Sunday.

“It just doesn’t seem real,” said Hamilton on the possibility of equalling Schumacher's tally. “Getting these wins is not easy, but I never thought I would be here, that’s for sure.”