Lewis Hamilton has admitted to changing his approach in the fight against racism by deploying diplomacy instead of “embarrassing people”.
Seven-time world champion Hamilton, 36, was extremely outspoken in his views last season – demanding Formula One and its governing body, the FIA, do more to tackle inequality within the sport.
He also called out his fellow drivers for remaining silent on social media after the death of George Floyd, while singling out Romain Grosjean, former director of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association, for failing to convince the grid to be united on the subject of taking a knee.
Hamilton says he will continue to perform the gesture ahead of races this season, and last weekend in Bahrain he was joined by a number of drivers, while others elected to stand.
Hamilton wore a T-shirt with the message: “Actions speak louder than words”.
“At the beginning of the year I was very outspoken and calling out the sport,” said Hamilton, who opened his championship defence by winning in Bahrain.
“At the time that was the right thing for me, but I discovered that there’s times where you have to be very diplomatic, where there’s more you can do by discussions in the background, rather than embarrassing people.
“I’m having conversations, trying to hold people in the sport more accountable. I’m constantly sending emails, I’m constantly on Zoom calls with Formula One and challenging them like they wouldn’t want to be challenged.”
In an interview with WIRED UK, the British driver, an avid environmentalist, also said retiring from F1 – among the least eco-friendly sports in the world – would have little impact.
Hamilton said: “What are my options? I could quit. The positives of that are that I won’t be driving a car around 20 different tracks, we’ll be flying less.
“But the fact is if I stop, the thing will keep going. They’re not going to stop for me.”
Hamilton, who is this year bidding to win an unprecedented eighth world crown, beat Red Bull’s Max Verstappen at Sunday’s thrilling season opener in the gulf kingdom. He will next be in action at Imola on April 18.