Lewis Hamilton slams Formula One over racism
World champion Lewis Hamilton has taken aim at Formula One, accusing the sport of lacking diversity ahead of the season opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne this weekend.
The 33-year-old had appeared alongside his rival Sebastian Vettel at the sport's official press conference to answer questions on his championship defence.
But moments after he left the press conference room at Albert Park, the Briton posted a video to his Instagram account in which he suggested F1 should do more to encourage participation from a wider range of ethnic backgrounds. Four-time champion Hamilton is the sport's first and only black driver and has six million followers on Instagram.
Hamilton recorded the 15-second video from his Mercedes team's hospitality suite of a number of people in the paddock, and accompanied the clip with the words: "There's barely any diversity in F1. Still nothing's changed in 11 years I've been here.
"Kids, people, there's so many jobs in this sport of which anybody, no matter your ethnicity or background, can make it and fit in."
He ended the post with two hashtags, 'diversity', and 'you can do it'.
It is not Hamilton's first run-in with the sport over race issues. Back in 2011, Hamilton said: "Maybe it's because I'm black. That's what Ali G says", after he was penalised by stewards at the Monaco Grand Prix.
Hamilton is this year bidding to become only the third driver in F1 history to win the championship more than four times.
The Stevenage-born racer fired an ominous warning to his rivals on the eve of the new campaign by vowing to take his performances to even greater heights this season.
"I plan to go to another level and that is what I have been working towards," Hamilton said. "I hope I haven't reached my peak."