Written by Staff Writer
(CNN) — F1 legend Lewis Hamilton is taking no chances when it comes to racial slurs made about him during the Hungarian Grand Prix last weekend.
“I’m not in a mood to listen to these people,” the four-time world champion said after an ugly post-race collision with Sebastian Vettel.
“They want me to sit in silence and listen to them, or to fight against it or to calm it down or say, ‘You got that wrong there,’ ‘That’s not the way we are.’ No, no, no, I’m not interested in that.”
The 33-year-old Briton said the verbal onslaught, which many fans took to be an intentional attack on him, left him seething.
And now, Hamilton — still recovering from a broken finger suffered in a crash in Monaco — says he has vowed to use his influence to create a world where racism is banished and causes such high-profile furore never happen again.
“I love what we’ve built here,” Hamilton said of Formula One, “as an image and as sport, but I don’t want this to ever be an issue again. We can’t do anything about it, but we can make it a better platform.”
In classic F1 fashion, Hamilton said the incident is merely part of “this character test we have to pass every week,” referring to the young drivers and inexperienced drivers in the championship, “who may be judged as being less than my calibre and who may come back here to the paddock with comments and get described as the same as me.”
Hamilton alluded to the infamous incident in Spain in 2005, when Jenson Button accepted that he too could have been provoked and accused him of lashing out to “make amends.”
FIA steps in
Speaking to CNN following Friday’s practice session, Hamilton described the “intense race” in Budapest as a “knockout encounter.”
He challenged Vettel’s claims that Hamilton’s comments to him were racially motivated.
He said Vettel was “embarrassed” because he failed to get past Hamilton, who was in a “bad mood” after the collision and refused to apologize to his rivals after the race.
The Englishman also took aim at Vettel for accusing Mercedes of race-fixing the collision, saying that the German driver should have “asked himself whether to get into the car or to let me pass.”
The FIA issued Vettel with a “final warning” on Friday, describing his remarks as unacceptable.
Hamilton’s teammates will receive a ‘Warnings’ licence — a warning to not race in the direction of Mercedes — for the rest of the season after four of them were accused of conspiring to hurt their closest rival in Hungary.
Ferrari says its drivers have also been warned and Belgian race winner Stoffel Vandoorne and team-mate Charles Leclerc both tested positive for new seat belts in a set-up test. The FIA ordered the drivers to undergo the test before they can return to their cars.
Asked if he had ever experienced racism in Formula One, Hamilton replied: “I’ve been on the receiving end of it. There have been times when I’ve been offered cigarettes that I didn’t want to have them.”
And he insisted that his critics are wrong to suggest he is for the ‘establishment’.
“The British stereotype with extreme to the extreme sometimes. I wasn’t there to be anything else than to be myself and represent it well and empower people,” he said.
“People will always try to bully. You’re going to go through all kinds of things in life. It’s not a black and white game, it’s a game of life, a game of relationships.”
The British star also set his sights on a sixth world title after going down narrowly to Vettel at last month’s Austrian Grand Prix.
“We have to go up,” Hamilton said. “We can’t rest on any of these now. We have to go up a level.
“We have to get smarter, improve ourselves and become a ruthless team and train together for as long as we can. If that means coming back every day and training together for three years in order to train harder and become better — that’s what we need to do.”