By The Capital Sports Report Staff
Lewis Hamilton returned to the track this week, and he also stepped up as a driving force against racism.
Reigning World Formula One champion Hamilton added his voice of support amidst the protests that have spread world wide since the death of George Floyd, a black man, who was suffocated when Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on the neck of a handcuffed Floyd for nearly nine minutes.
“These past few weeks, we’ve seen the world open its eyes to the realities of racism today,” Hamilton posted on his Instagram account, which has 16.8 million followers. “People all over the world have united, and are using their voices and platforms in the fight for racial equality, and against police brutality and white supremacy.
“While we still have a long way to go in addressing this issue, I want to take a moment to appreciate the positive steps that have been taken so far, as a result of our collective voices and actions.”
Hamilton showed his support for the goals and objectives of peaceful protesters both in America, as well as the people who’ve spread this mission into a united global affront to racism across the planet. The F1 champ also offered his backing to the removal of racist symbols from public display.
“We’ve seen laws being passed,” Hamilton noted. “We’ve seen police officers held accountable and charged for their fatal actions. Brands have started to align themselves with the Black Lives Matter movement, and are educating themselves on how they can do better. There’s also been a surge in the sale of anti-racist books, and many are watching films and documentaries to better educate themselves on our experience.
“More and more, we are seeing people wanting to learn about black history. This is only the beginning and there is still so much change to come.”
Hamilton Back On Track
Both Hamilton and Mercedes teammate Vatteri Bottas were back in the cockpit of their F1 machines this week. They were on the track for the first time since the final day of preseason testing that took place on Feb. 29 in Barcelona, just prior to the decision to delay the launch of the F1 season due to the outbreak of COVID-19.
Based upon his own calculations, Hamilton estimated that he’d gone 103 days between turns at the steering wheel of a race car.
Testing in England at Silverstone, Mercedes opted to send the drivers out on track in their two-year-old car. That’s the W09 car that Hamilton drove to his fifth world championship in 2018.
“In general, we just got through a solid programme today,” Hamilton told FormulaOne.com. “Valtteri’s day was dry, my day started off wet, so quite a greasy Silverstone track. But obviously I grew up in this kind of weather here, so I’m used to it. But I was still able to get a good feel of the car.”
Meanwhile, F1 teams were also adjusting to the new health and safety restrictions that will be enforced once F1 resumes its 2020 racing schedule.
Team members must wear facemasks, maintaining six feet of social distancing as much as possible and employ frequent use of hand sanitizer. It’s hoped that all of these steps will enable F1 to avoid an outbreak of COVID-19 once the season gets back on track.
All members of the Mercedes team were tested for coronavirus upon arriving at Silverstone. Each test came back negative. All team members wore masks, and some opted for full face shields while working on the race car. Hamilton donned a mask when he was out of his race car.
Evidently, according to Hamilton, driving a Formula One car is just like riding a bike. No matter how long you’re away from the wheel, you never forget how it’s done.
“When you leave the garage the first time, you get this buzz, and it doesn’t matter how many years you do it, it always feels new and fresh,” Hamilton told theguardian.com. “Obviously this is an older car, but it still felt fantastic. We got through a solid programme.
“I didn’t feel like I’ve ever left the water, so that’s a positive. Every time you take a big break – I think it’s been 103 days or something – you always wonder whether you can still drive. So it’s a good feeling to know of course I can.
“I’m ready. I feel fit.”
Formula One Reboot All Set
The F1 season is slated to get underway with the Austrian Grand Prix on July 5. Three-time defending champion Hamilton will set out in pursuit of his seventh Formula One world drivers title in that race. He’s been established as the +175 favorite to win the Austrian Grand Prix in the opening betting lines on the race and stand atop the podium.
Hamilton is also pegged as the betting chalk to wear the overall world F1 crown. The Mercedes driver is the odds-on -225 favorite to win the title for the fourth year in succession and tie Michael Schumacher by capturing a record seven F1 drivers championships.
Along with the last three years, Hamilton was also F1 champion in 2008, 2014 and 2015.
Max Verstappen (+500), Bottas (+550) and Charles Leclerc (+650) are other top contenders for the title.
The F1 season will get underway with back-to-back races in Austria on July 5th and 12th. The scene then switches to Budapest for the third races in the series on July 19th. All races will be held behind closed doors without spectators.
F1 is seeking an exemption from England’s 14-day quarantine restriction in order to contest races Aug. 2nd and 9th at Silverstone.