Lewis Hamilton says becoming the most decorated driver in Formula One history “doesn’t mean anything” unless he continues to lead the fight against racism in the sport.
The 35-year-old Englishman equalled Michael Schumacher’s seven world championships with victory at the Turkish Grand Prix on Sunday, ensuring he will enter the history books with a greater number of victories, pole positions and podiums than anyone who has gone before him.
However, in an interview with the Guardian, Hamilton said that while winning championships was “great”, “it doesn’t mean anything unless you can help push for change”.
He added: “I cannot keep silent during this time.”
As the sport’s only black driver, Hamilton has been at the forefront of the Black Lives Matter movement, encouraging competitors to kneel with him before each race and convincing Mercedes to change the livery of its cars from silver to black.
He also established the Hamilton Commission, which is aimed at improving the representation of black people in motor sport.
Hamilton was also voted number one in this year’s Powerlist, which showcases the most powerful people of African, African-Caribbean and African-American heritage in the UK.
He is the first sports star in the list’s 14-year history to claim the top spot.
Hamilton called the award a “monumental moment”, telling the paper: “To be acknowledged within the black community… I’m just so proud.”
Reflecting on his legacy in the sport, Hamilton said he hoped his work outside of the car ultimately has a greater impact than his achievements behind the wheel.
He said: “I want to look back on Formula One in 10 years’ time and really see change because yes, we have this Black Lives Matter moment and there’s a mic and people are hearing it, but you’ve got to really do the work to activate change.”