Chandhok, Brundle discussed Hamilton’s comments on the F1 Show
Last Updated: 08/06/20 6:33pm
Sky F1 pundit Karun Chandhok says Lewis Hamilton is “absolutely right” to use his platform to speak out about racism and diversity.
Hamilton, F1’s six-time champion and only black driver, has been vocal on social media throughout the Black Lives Matter movement, criticising his sport for its “silence” last week before further posts on protests in the United States and United Kingdom, while also revealing the racist abuse he suffered as a child.
His efforts have been praised by his team Mercedes and Brawn, Hamilton’s former boss and now F1’s managing director of motorsports.
Chandhok, one of two Indian drivers to have competed in Formula 1, has also backed Hamilton.
“I think he was absolutely right to go to the forefront and say things publicly,” said Chandhok on the F1 Show. “But I also think he was right to call out the rest of the paddock and the rest of the sport.
“I spoke with a number of people within the sport who felt it was a bit unfair because they didn’t believe they were racist and thought he was making generalisations – but I think they missed the point.
“Lewis’ point seemed to be that it’s not enough to be non-racist, he’s calling for people within the sport to be actively anti-racist. He was right.
“Those, like drivers, who have a lot of followers on social media, need to be actively speaking up to raise awareness of racial biases which do exist and to make the wider world look for signs in everyday life.
“Ross mentioned on our show that Lewis is an excellent ambassador for the sport, something I agree with, and I thought this was another clear sign of that.”
Martin Brundle, discussing the comments alongside Chandhok and Simon Lazenby on Monday’s show, stated he was “proud” of Hamilton for using his platform to speak out.
“He’s earned the right – through talent, through adversity, hard work, personal risk, and winning six world championships in Formula 1 – to stand up and say the things that he said,” said Brundle.
“I’m proud of him and pleased that he did, and I support him in every way.”
He added: “I first met Lewis when I handed him a trophy when he was 12 or 13 years old.
“I’ve never thought of him as a black driver. He’s Lewis. We revere him as one of the greatest Formula 1 drivers of all-time, if not heading to be the greatest. He’s a hero worshipped in our world.”
Karun on grassroots and personal F1 experiences
Chandhok, who drove for Hispania and Lotus in F1, also agreed with the sport’s push for more diversity at grassroots after Brawn told Sky F1 a number of initiatives have been set up to provide greater opportunities for all.
“I think Ross hit the nail on the head, it has to come from the grassroots level,” added Chandhok. “I think he’s definitely on the right path, in terms of starting at karting and F1 at schools.
“This is a generational shift that’s needed. Our kids, hopefully, will grow up in a society and a world where people are more conscious of racial biases and are thinking about it, picking up the small signs. I think that’s really important.”
View this post on Instagram
I’ve been reading every day to try to stay on top of everything that’s been happening in our fight against racism, and it’s brought back so many painful memories from my childhood. Vivid memories of the challenges I faced when I was a kid, as I’m sure many of you who have experienced racism or some sort of discrimination have faced. I have spoken so little about my personal experiences because I was taught to keep it in, don’t show weakness, kill them with love and beat them on the track. But when it was away from the track, I was bullied, beaten and the only way I could fight this was to learn to defend myself, so I went to karate. The negative psychological effects cannot be measured. This is why I drive the way I do, it is far deeper than just doing a sport, I’m still fighting. Thank God I had my father, a strong black figure who I could look up to, that I knew understood and would stand by my side no matter what. Not all of us have that but we need to stand together with those who may not have that hero to lean on and protect them. We must unite! I have wondered why 2020 seemed so doomed from the start but I’m starting to believe that 2020 may just be the most important year of our lives, where we can finally start to change the systemic and social oppression of minorities. We just want to live, have the same chances at education, at life and not have to fear walking down the street, or going to school, or walking into a store whatever it may be. We deserve this as much as anyone. Equality is paramount to our future, we cannot stop fighting this fight✊🏾, I for one, will never give up! #blacklivesmatter #endracism #nevergiveup #wewinandwelosetogether
Speaking about his personal experience within the sport, Chandhok said: “I think first of all, everyone’s life experience is different. I didn’t grow up as a black teenager karting in Europe in the 1990s like Lewis did so I don’t know what that was like: I can only speak about myself.
“I never felt like I was treated differently by teams or drivers I competed against in wheel-to-wheel battle, by the teams I drove for, or by the five broadcasters I’ve worked with in F1.
“That said, there have been several occasions over the years at race tracks where people who don’t know me second guess or question my right to be there. There have been security guards checking my pass more than someone else’s, or searching through my bag more than others’. It’s hard to put into exact words, but there’s a tone or a look you get that’s hard to describe unless you’ve felt it.
“These are an unfortunate part of subconscious biases that exist in society on the whole – I think of the few occasions when I’ve been waiting to pick up my wife at the train station and a white person has tried to get in the back of the car because they assumed I was a taxi driver.
“I’m not saying that person is racist and they probably don’t think they’re racist, but these are the subconscious biases that exist and I hope that by people like Lewis highlighting it, the world thinks about it a bit more.”