Lewis Hamilton says his quest for a seventh Formula 1 world title comes in the “most important year” of his life as he also pushes to drive change. 

The Mercedes driver has championed F1’s fight against racism and been one of the leading and powerful voices on the Black Lives Matter movement both inside and outside of the sport following the death in police custody of George Floyd in May. 

On track, Hamilton is chasing a seventh world championship to equal Ferrari legend Michael Schumacher’s unrivalled feat, while he is five wins away from surpassing the German’s all-time record of 91 race victories.

“I think it’s the most important year of my life to date with everything that’s going on,” Hamilton said. 

“It’s a different fight championship-wise to other years. They are always different but we had the years when we were fighting Ferraris and Red Bulls, but it’s slightly different up to this point. 

“It's a special year and I don’t take that lightly. People ask where we get our motivation from and I think there are so many things to take inspiration from and to inspire us.

“To fight for a championship in a time like this is exciting and empowering with the thought that there might be change to follow.”

After Hamilton criticised F1’s poorly-organised anti-racism message at the Hungarian Grand Prix, championship bosses and the FIA made changes ahead of last weekend’s British Grand Prix to schedule a specific timeframe to hold a demonstration. 

With F1 leaving it up to each driver to show their support in whichever way they feel comfortable, some have been criticised for not taking a knee alongside Hamilton prior to each of the opening four races so far. 

Asked if he felt some drivers’ refusal to take the knee were taking away from the message, Hamilton replied: “I don’t think so. I’m in it, not seeing it from the outside. So I don’t have the same perspective as everyone else.

“I would like to think just that we are doing something and [that] being together in it is the important thing. Of course, I look at the other sports and most have Black Lives Matter shirts on and football teams, no matter what nationality they are, they all take the knee.

“But then you see in basketball there are some that don’t, in baseball some that don’t, but it doesn’t mean they’re not united. I think it is ultimately down to personal choice and you can’t force people into doing things.

“But I think it is a time where we can continue to educate each other and help people understand what that symbol actually means, because I think a lot of people don’t understand what it means. That’s just something we are all learning.”

 

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