Lewis Hamilton: Racism is still prominent in society and that is not going to change for a long time

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Phil Duncan
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Lewis Hamilton was speaking ahead of the Bahrain GP - Getty Images Europe
Lewis Hamilton was speaking ahead of the Bahrain GP - Getty Images Europe

Lewis Hamilton fears racism might not be stamped out for a long time, saying it is a prevalent issue in society.

Hamilton, 34, was addressing the subject in the wake of taunts subjected to England's black footballers during their European Championships qualifier in Montenegro earlier this week.

The Mercedes star, Formula One’s first and only black driver, responded to the racist chanting on social media, describing it as "unacceptable" and "despicable".

And speaking in Bahrain, ahead of the second round of his title defence, the Briton added: "It is crazy to think that at this time in the world, racism is still such a prominent thing.

"It is really there, all around the world, and a real issue, which is sad to see. It doesn’t seem like it is going to migrate much over the next few years.

"It's great to see people standing by in support, but it doesn't look like it's something that's going to particularly change for a long time."

Asked how the issue could be resolved, Hamilton replied: "People need to stand up for it more.

"I remember being at school and you got a slap on the hand for it and it was just allowed to slide. That shouldn’t happen anywhere.

"Action should be taken and we need to be a lot stricter with it. That starts from parents passing it on to their kids, and so on."

Although Hamilton has secured five world championships, there remains a lack of diversity in F1’s largely white-male dominated world.

Indeed, the Briton's rags-to-riches story from a Stevenage council house to becoming the sport’s biggest star, remains the exception rather than the norm.

Hamilton, who has an Instagram following of more than 10 million, added: "There is a lot of power that comes with social media, and there is a lot of stuff that I want to post that I don’t.

"There are so many issues around the world, and there are certain things I am able to put out there that people can react to, create a conversation, an opinion, and hopefully steer change, but you have to find a balance."

Hamilton will be looking to open his winning account here in the desert on Sunday. He trails Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas in the standings following the Finn's victory at the Australian Grand Prix earlier this month.

There is a feeling in the paddock that Bottas, winless last season, is boasting a meaner streak in 2019, but Hamilton said: "He is the same guy as he was last year, and I never thought he was a weak person.

"Last year he was really strong, and unfortunate in many races. We move on. There has only been one race. It was a great race for him, and I look forward to seeing many more good ones from him."