During the COVID lockdown in 2020, the world was shocked to see footage of American citizen George Floyd being killed by police officers in the USA.
By kneeling on his neck, the police officer killed Floyd, sparking outrage and protests all around the world.
When Formula 1 eventually restarted following the enforced COVID break, the sport ensured that they helped to spread the message by holding a minutes’ silence before races, where some drivers chose to take the knee.
All of the drivers wore t-shirts bearing the phrases ‘We Race as One’ and ‘End Racism’, but Lewis Hamilton decided to wear a different shirt which read ‘Black Lives Matter’ and take the knee.
Hamilton has now revealed that he did not tell Mercedes about his plans, as he did not believe they would truly understand what he was hoping to achieve.
“There’s a right way to do it but the first day I was going to take the knee, I didn’t feel like I could tell my team. Because I felt that they wouldn’t understand how important it is for me to do this on this day,” he said on the Jay Shetty Podcast.
“I remember I had my Black Lives Matter shirt hidden and I just wore it out there and I went ahead with it. The sport had made all these t-shirts with the ‘We Race as One’ slogan and they gave these t-shirts to everybody and I was like ‘I’m not wearing that, that’s not what this is about’, and so this is what I’m doing.
“Afterwards my team are like ‘well if you just told us we could have prepared better’ but I had this fear they would try to stop me.
“But that was just a fear, they have been massively supportive through the whole thing. My hope was that kids would be watching me and saying ‘Why is he taking the knee? What does that shirt mean? What is going on Dad, Mum?’ And then the parents would have been in an awkward position having to explain it.”
Hamilton and the rest of the drivers will have to be much more careful with how they chose to express their views this season, as the FIA have now changed the rules.
Drivers will now have to see prior permission from the FIA before making a political, religious or personal gesture or they will potentially be punished by the sport’s governing body.