Lewis Hamilton has questioned Formula One bosses’ decision to hire Vitaly Petrov as a steward for this weekend’s Portuguese Grand Prix following the former driver’s controversial remarks on race and sexuality.
In a recent interview, Russian Petrov, who raced against Hamilton 57 times, described wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt as “superfluous”, and said a “man kneels only in two cases, in a place of worship before God and when you propose to your future wife”.
The 36-year-old added: “What if one of the drivers comes out as gay? Will they go out with a rainbow flag and urge everyone else to become gay or something?
“There are a lot of examples. I don’t think the FIA will allow such actions to continue.”
Responding on Thursday, Hamilton, who has led the calls for greater diversity in F1 and worn a Black Lives Matter top at all but one of the races this season, said: “It is a surprise to see that they are hiring someone who has those beliefs and is so vocal about things we are trying to fight against.
“You should take it up with the FIA because there is nothing I can particularly do about.
“But we should definitely be including people here who are with the times, understanding of the times we are living in, and sensitive to the matters that are surrounding us.
“I don’t really quite understand what the FIA’s goal is or why particularly he is here because it is not like they don’t have other options.”
The race at Portimao will mark Petrov’s debut as a steward. Petrov, who competed in F1 for three years – two seasons with Renault and his final campaign for Caterham in 2013 – will be one of four stewards officiating the grand prix.
F1’s governing body, the FIA, did not immediately respond when asked to comment on Hamilton’s remarks.
Meanwhile, it is understood the FIA has issued a warning to Racing Point over their handling of Lance Stroll’s illness at the Eifel Grand Prix.
Made it to Portugal! Hope you are all staying safe 🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/mKWllT24VT
— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) October 22, 2020
Stroll, 21, did not undertake a Covid-19 test at the Nurburgring despite displaying flu-like symptoms for a number of days.
He withdrew from the race on Saturday, and tested positive for the virus upon arriving at his home in Switzerland the following day.
The Canadian, whose father Lawrence owns the Silverstone-based team and also tested positive for the virus, has since returned a negative result and is fit to race in Portugal.
“Hindsight is a beautiful thing,” said Stroll on Thursday. “At that time in Germany, I didn’t think I had Covid. I had the same symptoms at the previous race in Russia but tested negative twice.
“Had I guessed I had Covid I should have got tested, but I spoke to my doctor and we concluded that it wasn’t the case.”