For their comments on his anti-racism stance, Lewis Hamilton hit back at past Formula One champions Mario Andretti and Jackie Stewart and pushed for greater diversity in sport.
Andretti, who won his title in 1978 and is now 80, was quoted by the Chilean newspaper El Mercurio as saying that he had great respect for the six-time world champion but wondered why he had “become a fighter”
The American great also spoke, in comments translated into Spanish, of “creating a problem that doesn’t exist” and added that “in motor racing colour doesn’t matter; you have to win your place with results, and that’s the same for everyone.”.
“I have a lot of respect for Lewis, but why become a militant?” Andretti said.
“He’s always been accepted and he’s earned everyone’s respect.
“I think the whole point of this is pretentious. I feel that way. And it’s creating a problem that doesn’t exist.”
Triple champion Stewart, 81 and UK’s most famous driver before Hamilton came along, had told ITV’s Good Morning Britain he didn’t think Formula One had as big a problem as it might seem.
Hamilton is the only black driver who is predominantly white and male in a sport.
“This is disappointing but unfortunately a reality that some of the older generation who still have a voice today cannot get out of their own way and acknowledge there is a problem,” Hamilton said in an Instagram story.
“Again, this is plain ignorance but that will not stop me from continuing to push for change,” he said of Andretti’s comments.
“It is never too late to learn and I hope that this man who I’ve always had respect for can take the time to educate himself,” added the Mercedes driver.
Of Stewart’s comments, the Briton wrote: “Again, another one. Just disappointing.”
Hamilton, sporting a Black Lives Matter T-shirt and using his voice to speak out against racial discrimination, has taken a knee during all three races of the season to date.
Last weekend in Hungary, where the drivers’ pre-race anti-racism gesture seemed rushed and disorganised, the 35-year-old called on F1 to do more in the fight against racism in general.