Lewis Hamilton to join sport’s social media boycott after revealing he has become the latest athlete abused online… before questioning why F1 is not backing the three-day protest over the weekend
- F1 star Lewis Hamilton is one of sport’s most prominent social media figures
- Hamilton has now pledged to join sport’s boycott of social media over weekend
- England Rugby and the LTA have also backed the protest led by English football
- Seven-time world champion Hamilton said: ‘I am fully supportive of the initiative’
Sir Lewis Hamilton has pledged to join sport’s boycott of social media this weekend after confirming he was targeted by online abusers.
The seven-time world champion also questioned why Formula One is not supporting the three-day protest led by English football.
Hamilton, with 22 million followers on Instagram alone, is one of international sport’s most prominent social media figures — and his statement of solidarity comes as other organisations, including England Rugby and the Lawn Tennis Association, backed a mass switch-off.
Lewis Hamilton insisted he is ‘fully supportive of the initiative’ to boycott social media
Speaking ahead of Sunday’s Portuguese Grand Prix, Hamilton said: ‘I am fully supportive of the initiative and if me doing it helps put pressure on those platforms then I am happy to do so.
‘It is clear that racism continues to be an issue and social media platforms need to do more to combat this.
‘There are algorithms and they are able to see things and take steps to create an anti-racist society, and that is what we have to be pushing towards.
‘I am really proud to hear there are so many organisations getting involved. I am not sure why Formula One is not a part of that.’
It is understood Formula One executives spoke to the teams this week to discuss the subject but decided not to join in.
The seven-time world champion is one of sport’s most prominent social media figures
A spokesman for the sport told Sportsmail: ‘F1 is wholly committed to combatting any form of discrimination, online or otherwise.
‘We support the actions of the Premier League and other sporting bodies and athletes in highlighting that more must be done to eradicate online abuse they are receiving directly.
‘We continue to work with all platforms and our own audiences to promote respect and positive values and to stop racism.’
Hamilton, still Formula One’s sole black driver 14 years after he made his debut, said: ‘I was subjected to abuse when I was younger.
‘There was a period of time when I had to understand you cannot read every comment or take it personally.
Hamilton has 22 million followers on Instagram, which he uses regularly to keep fans updated
‘If you let those things get to you, it can ruin your day. I stepped back from it and I generally don’t go searching for that stuff, or for validation.
‘I have amazing support from many fans who follow me and I am grateful for that.’
While Hamilton contributed to the politics of sport, the man who wants to be his replacement or team-mate next season, George Russell, was smoothing over ripples lapping at his stellar reputation.
The 23-year-old Williams driver was last seen angrily tapping Valtteri Bottas on the helmet after the pair collided in Imola a fortnight ago. Russell had tried to force his way past the Mercedes man but lost traction on wet grass and they both tumbled off the track at 200mph.
The Englishman had a right to make the move, even if it did not work out, but then got carried away in a flood of adrenaline as he climbed out of the cockpit to remonstrate.
George Russell said his actions ‘were not my true self’ after clashing with Valtteri Bottas
Russell vented his fury after a crash with Bottas which took both out of the race in Imola
Russell rang Bottas the next day to make up but the intended recipient was ‘asleep’ and missed the call. The Finn accepted on Thursday that the fracas is ‘done and dusted’.
A contrite but unfazed Russell said: ‘Having had a week or even just an evening to let the emotions calm down and to reflect on everything, the incident is one thing, part of racing and these things happen. But my actions afterwards were not my true self.
‘I went against my instincts. It was a very poor judgment call in the heat of the moment. I want to lead by example and be a role model and that was not leading by example.’
Russell has since spoken to Mercedes boss Toto Wolff. ‘Toto has been very supportive and constructive,’ said Russell. ‘Our relationship has not been damaged at all. If anything, quite the opposite.’