Lewis Hamilton, the top Formula One driver in the world, recently expressed regret for not doing more at the height of the Colin Kaepernick-NFL controversy.
Hamilton, who is Black, spoke after last weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix. He said following the race that he wishes he would have done more when Kaepernick was kneeling for the national anthem.
The 35-year-old United Kingdom driver said he had a tribute planned for Kaepernick in 2017, but was talked out of it.
“He sat down for the national anthem and got a lot of backlash. … I thought that was a really powerful statement that he made and he lost his job,” Hamilton told reporters.
“I had actually spoken to him a couple of years ago, shortly after that, for the U.S. Grand Prix. And I had a helmet and everything made in red with his number on the top.
“But back then I was kind of silenced, I was told to kind of back down, don’t support it. Which I will say that I regret. So it was important for me to make sure that during this period of time I did my part.”
Hamilton has clarified that he was advised from someone “high up” in the United States.
“I was advised from outside, from someone in the States who was really quite high up, that it wasn’t the time for me to be doing so.
“There were potential consequences for me doing it. So that’s why they advised me not to do it,” Hamilton told reporters this week.
Hamilton has since led demonstrations from Formula One drivers. A group of drivers kneeled before a recent race and Hamilton wore a Black Lives Matter shirt.