“Vinícius Jr. was incredibly brave,” Lewis Hamilton said.
Seven-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton said on Thursday that the racism Real Madrid striker Vinícius Jr. suffered in the Spanish La Liga reminded him of his own professional experiences of discrimination.
“It’s devastating to think that in 2023 we’re still seeing these things and hearing these things,” Hamilton said in his press conference ahead of this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix.
“It really touches me, it really evokes emotions about things that I have experienced, whether it was in the UK or when I was racing in Italy, France or Spain.
“It can be so hurtful what people say. First, I think he (Vinícius Jr.) was incredibly brave. I think it’s amazing what so many of these (athletes) who are going through this on the court are doing in terms of standing up and standing strong.
The only black driver currently in Formula 1, Hamilton added that he believed extra attention was needed to effectively tackle racism. He has previously detailed his own experiences with racism at school and was racially assaulted by former Brazilian F1 driver Nelson Piquet in November 2021.
“There is no place for discrimination, I think, in today’s society. Sport must do more, we all must continue to do more. If we see it, hear it – we have to do something about it,” the 38-year-old said.
Clive Mason/Formula 1/Getty Images
Hamilton is fourth in the drivers’ standings, 63 points behind leader Max Verstappen.
Vinícius Jr. suffered persistent racist abuse from some Valencia fans during a game at the Mestalla stadium on Sunday.
The Brazilian player has been racially abused from the stands on 10 occasions in La Liga matches over the past two seasons, and seven people were arrested on Tuesday in connection with incidents of racist abuse directed at the Madrid star this season.
Sanctions against Valencia have been reduced to a three-game partial stadium ban and a fine of €27,000 (about $28,949) after an appeal, the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) announced on Friday.
Meanwhile, Hamilton says a new deal with Mercedes is “almost ready”, following reports linking the 38-year-old Briton with a switch to Ferrari.
“My team is working closely behind the scenes with Toto (Wolff), we are almost at the end of the contract preparation,” Hamilton told reporters, referring to the Mercedes team principal.
“Getting the team to focus on that, so I can just do my job, is a much better position than before. I remember I used to do all the negotiations on my own. , and it was very stressful, so I don’t have to do it anymore.
Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur also clarified that the Italian team had no discussions with Hamilton.
“You know perfectly well that at this stage of the season every week you will have a different story and we are not sending an offer to Lewis Hamilton. We haven’t.
The Monaco Grand Prix takes place on Sunday at the Circuit de Monaco.