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Hamilton backs protesting US stars


By Philip Duncan

Three-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton has offered his support to athletes using sport to make a political stand.

United States president Donald Trump last week suggested American football players should be sacked by their clubs if they knelt in protest during the American anthem.

Players have been kneeling during pre-match renditions of the Star-Spangled Banner - while the entire Pittsburgh Steelers team caused massive controversy by remaining in the locker room while the anthem was played ahead of their recent game with the Chicago Bears.

Trump recently called on team owners to fire any player involved in demonstrations and said fans should leave any stadiums where protests were witnessed.

Hamilton, Formula One's only black driver, backed the players and said he understands where the protesters are coming from.

"I think there are opportunities all over," he said when asked about sportsmen standing up for their rights.

"I think it is open for anyone to have freedom of speech and I guess we can all play a role in trying to make a difference in the world - particularly if your leader is not helping in that area.

"It takes for the people to try standing together and I really feel I can identify with a lot of those individuals."

Speaking ahead of this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix, Hamilton said he had no issue airing his personal views in public.

"Not at all, I don't feel like I need to either," he replied when asked if he had talked to his Mercedes team about his perspective.

"I genuinely have always had support from all of my team, I have never had any complaints from them and I don't anticipate there to be moving forward."

Hamilton was also questioned over recent comments that he has considered retiring.

The Briton, who is 28 points clear of nearest rival Sebastian Vettel heading into the race in Sepang, said: "I still contemplate about decisions over my future, but at the moment I am here to stay."

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