Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton taking a knee at the Portuguese Grand Prix in 2020

World champion Lewis Hamilton has pledged to “keep pushing” in the fight against racism this year.

Hamilton, who led Formula 1’s pre-race demonstrations promoting equality last year, said it was important “to hold ourselves and others accountable.”

Hamilton said he was “proud” of the fact the majority of drivers had taken the knee before races last year.

But he added: “My question is, what’s next? The inequities within our sport and within the world persist.”

His comments come in the wake of F1 announcing earlier this month that its pre-race demonstrations by drivers will morph this year into a broader support for “sustainability, diversity and inclusion and community”.

F1 president Stefano Domenicali, who has emphasised his desire for drivers to “lead by example” is to discuss with them before the season how best to reflect those issues.

Drivers are to be allowed to support their own causes as long as they fall within the boundaries of the sport’s core tenets.

The sport’s shift in emphasis means Hamilton and others will be able to continue to take the knee to show their support for anti-racism should they choose to do so, but that individual drivers may choose to highlight different issues.

Domenicali is expected to say at a meeting during pre-season testing in Bahrain next month that he wants to avoid the situation that developed last year during the pre-race demonstration.

All drivers showed their support for anti-racism, but while Hamilton led 13 in taking the knee, seven chose to remain standing.

Hamilton, writing in a post on social media, said: “Change is still needed. We have to keep striving for equality for all, in order to continue to see true and lasting change in our world.

“As long as I have air in my lungs, I will continue to fight for change in everything I do. I will work to create pathways and opportunities for kids of colour within sciences, engineering and creative disciplines.”

Hamilton last year set up his own commission to look into the causes of the lack of diversity within the motorsport industry.

And as part of his new, one-year contract signed with Mercedes earlier this month, he and his team have created a joint foundation to support the cause.

Lewis Hamilton on Black Lives Matter: “I was not expecting the response that I got.”

Last year was the first time F1 had held a minute’s silence at each race in this manner. The move arose out of the global anti-racism protests sparked by the death of George Floyd at the hands of US police, and Hamilton’s decision to highlight the issue and F1’s lack of diversity.

Floyd, an unarmed African-American man, died after a police officer knelt on his neck for more than seven minutes.

Hamilton said shortly afterwards that he was “completely overcome with rage” at the events in the US, and he spent the year speaking out about issues of equality, saying it had given him a new drive as he sought his seventh world title.

Having achieved that, and equalled the record held by Michael Schumacher, Hamilton has the chance this year to win an eighth drivers’ title and stand completely alone at the head of all F1 statistics.