Motorsport great Mario Andretti has criticised Lewis Hamilton’s Black Lives Matter protests saying that Formula One driver must not be mixing politics with sport.
Hamilton has taken a knee before each Formula One race so far wearing a ‘Black Lives Matter’ shirt and has been joined by several F1 drivers in showing solidarity for the movement.
However, Andretti believes he’s creating a problem that doesn’t exist by his protests.
“I have a lot of respect for Lewis, but why become a militant? He’s always been accepted and he’s earned everyone’s respect,” the former F1, NASCAR and IndyCar driver told Chilean newspaper, El Mercurio.
“I think the whole point of this is pretentious. I feel that way. And it’s creating a problem that doesn’t exist. Painting the car black… I don’t know what good it will do. I’ve met drivers from different backgrounds, races, and I’ve always welcomed them with open arms. In motor racing it doesn’t matter what colour you are; you have to earn your place with results, and that’s the same for everyone,” he added.
Hamilton later expressed his disappointment at Andretti’s comments and called him ignorant.
“This is disappointing but unfortunately a reality that some of the older generations who still have a voice today cannot get out of their own way and acknowledge there is a problem,” he said
“Again, this is plain ignorance but that will not stop me from continuing to push for change.
“It is never too late to learn and I hope that this man who I’ve always had respect for can take the time to educate himself,” he added.
Hamilton had also criticised Formula One more not doing enough in their bid to fight racism. Formula One responded to the criticism ending racism was a clear priority of F1.
“We set out our plans for diversity and inclusion last November and have in recent weeks announced additional plans to create a Taskforce to tackle these issues and a foundation with over $1 million already donated to create apprenticeships and job opportunities for underrepresented groups. We want to make lasting change and are acting to do this,” F1 said in a statement.