Superstar Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton was subjected to racist abuse online after crashing into another driver during the British Grand Prix and later winning the race on Sunday.
Hamilton, who is the sport’s only Black driver, was targeted with racist taunts on social media, and Formula 1, the International Automobile Federation and his team, Mercedes-AMG-Petronas, denounced the actions in a joint statement.
“Formula 1, The FIA and Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team condemn this behaviour in the strongest possible terms. These people have no place in our sport and we urge that those responsible should be held accountable for their actions,” the statement read.
“Formula One, the FIA, the drivers and teams are working to build a more diverse and inclusive sport and such unacceptable instances of online abuse must be highlighted and eliminated,” the statement added.
Sky Sports reported racist messages, including “monkey emojis” and other racial slurs were directed at Lewis in an Instagram post by the Mercedes team celebrating his victory. In a statement to CBS News, a spokesperson for Facebook, which owns Instagram, called the abuse “unacceptable” and removed a number of comments on the platform.
“No single thing will fix this challenge overnight but we’re committed to the work to keep our community safe from abuse,” the spokesperson said.
Other F1 teams such as McLaren and Aston Martin extended supporting messages to Hamilton.
“Racism must be driven out of our sport, and it’s our shared responsibility to unite and eliminate it,” McLaren wrote.
Hamilton collided with Red Bull Racing rival Max Verstappen in the first lap of the British Grand Prix, sending Verstappen to the hospital. Despite being hit with a 10-second penalty, Hamilton rallied to grab his record eighth victory at the race.
Verstappen, who said he was cleared from the hospital on Sunday, called the move from Lewis on the track “dangerous.” The Belgian-Dutch driver also didn’t care for Lewis’ post-race celebrations, saying it was “unsportsmanlike behavior.”
Following his win, Hamilton tweeted about Verstappen and the crash, which he said is a “reminder of the dangers of this sport.”
“I send my best wishes to Max who is an incredible competitor,” he wrote.” I’m glad to hear he is ok. I will always race hard but always fairly. My team showed grit and perseverance out there. It’s a dream to win in front of my home crowd.”
At 36 years old, Hamilton is one of the greatest drivers in the sport. He has been an ardent supporter of Black Lives Matter and used his platform to advocate for social justice. He has knelt on one knee as a nod to Colin Kaepernick’s protests and wore a shirt calling for justice for Breonna Taylor.
The online abuse directed at Hamilton comes a week after three Black British soccer players were targeted with racist slurs after missing pivotal penalty shots during England’s Euro championship loss against Italy.
This story was originally published by CBS News on July 19, 2021.
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