| |

Lewis Hamilton is right about racism - but he's wrong in his approach.

Nigel Morris-Co...

Multiple Formula One World Champion Lewis Hamilton is the poster-boy for anti-racism. He has put himself in that position and there is absolutely no question - the world needs good people to stand up and speak out against bad things.

However, his symbolism is misplaced and those that demand compliance with it are doing more harm than good.

SkySports F1 commentator David Croft is passionate about Formula One; perhaps he's as passionate as anyone working in a Formula One team, for it is passion and little else that turns children into those who work in motorsport. You don't get a job, you choose a life.

And so, it is, to a degree, understandable that "Crofty" wants Formula One to be the very best it can be in every possible way. But, yesterday, he got it horribly, horribly wrong. He kept on and on and on about apparent disunity between the drivers over the cause of racism. The reason? Several drivers do not agree with the American action of, as they call it, "taking a knee."

Going down on one knee during a national anthem has become an emotive issue. It transcends racism because it goes against the long tradition that one stands, unmoving, for the national anthem - be it that of your own country or that of someone else's. When one or two American sportsmen did it, it was widely seen as disrespectful of the US national anthem. Players were suspended. The singing, however badly, of the US National Anthem before a sporting event is sacrosanct, a part of the American psyche, a statement that, no matter what, everyone is ultimately one under the flag. To do otherwise is not a statement of unity, it is a statement of disrespect and division, perhaps equal to, perhaps even worse than, burning the flag.

The current approach of the drivers standing at the front of the grid for the national anthem started only recently. It started in Russia. It was a political statement - F1 is here to stay, F1 in unity with President Putin who, uniquely, was granted access to the post-race Green Room in a spectacular error of judgement by Bernie Ecclestone, creating the astonishing scene in which drivers sponsored by Malaysian oil company Petronas were required to shake hands with the man whose regime was at least instrumental in the shooting down of a Malaysian Airlines passenger aircraft not long before, murdering citizens of many countries including the Netherlands and Australia, both places where F1 is bordering on a religion.

Now, when the drivers go to the front of the Grid, they stand, awkwardly, separated by social distancing, at risk of breaking the mini-bubbles that each team are required to live and work in within the big bubble that the F1 circus has built around itself.

Before the Austrian GP, the drivers "discussed" whether they should kneel on one knee during the Austrian National Anthem. Some agreed, some did not. Crofty has criticised those who did not and strongly and repeatedly said that F1 should show unity in this. Hamilton said it's a matter of personal choice. Jenson Button, pushed by David Croft to join the critics, said that what matters is results, and that inequality is something that Formula One needs to address: sulking Croft said "we'll be discussing this later." If they did, I'd already turned off; the world, and me in particular, does not need to be hectored about politics by a sports commentator, no matter how good he is at his job. But he should ask himself how his attitude affects other mixed-race drivers who don't have an element of black.