Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 August 2020

Formula One: Romain Grosjean and Lewis Hamilton clear the air over drivers' anti-racism demonstrations

Ahead of British Grand Prix, Frenchman reveals he had talks with reigning world champion

Romain Grosjean has revealed that he apologised to Lewis Hamilton and paved the way to a more unified drivers' anti-racism demonstration, ahead of this weekend's British Grand Prix.

Speaking during official virtual news media conferences at Silverstone, the Frenchman, who is a director of the Grand Prix Drivers Association (GPDA), revealed he had a 45-minute phone call with Hamilton on the Tuesday following the Hungarian Grand Prix.

"It was a good chat with Lewis," said the Haas driver, who had been criticised by the six-time world champion for not pushing the GPDA members to continue to take the knee or show their unity after the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix.

"I said sorry," he said. "Maybe I did it the wrong way, but I felt that I had to do it at the time. In the GPDA, we work on the majority vote system and I felt that if I wasn't, as one of the directors, listening to the drivers – who were not happy to carry on – I wasn't doing my duties.

"He mentioned that as one of the directors they're listening to you, and that was his point and I think he was right in that aspect.

"It was a really good phone call – and I also said I wasn't very happy that the media came out and, on my social media, there were a lot of things about racism, and that I am a racist and whatsoever, which is absolutely wrong.

"I was one of the first ones to support and to push that we take the knee and I'm still hopeful that one day we will get 20 drivers to take the knee on the grid and that it will happen at one point."

Hamilton had said he felt compelled to speak out about a lack of leadership and unity and what he felt was an unnecessary "battle" to ensure the sport's anti-racism stance was pushed to the front of people's minds.

"He's one of them that thinks it was done once – and that's all we need to do," said Hamilton.

Grosjean added that having settled matters with Hamilton, the GPDA and the world champion had spoken to the International Motoring Federation (FIA) and Liberty Media about organising a cohesive and formal pre-race ceremony at Silverstone.

"It's hard for us drivers to organise things over an event because you know we've got many things to look at," he said.

Romain Grosjean spoke to Lewis Hamilton for 45 minutes on the phone after the Hungarian Grand Prix. Getty
Romain Grosjean spoke to Lewis Hamilton for 45 minutes on the phone after the Hungarian Grand Prix. Getty

"So we wanted more guidance from Liberty and a clear procedure before the race as we did in Austria for race one.

"I think that's going to happen and that's going to be more clear for all of us to know exactly what to do."

Hamilton, meanwhile, said that he is hoping to stay in F1 for at least three more years, with the Covid-19 pandemic and racial issues providing "a lot of energy" and motivation.

The Mercedes driver, now 35 and out of contract with Mercedes at the end of the year, holds a string of records and is set to surpass Michael Schumacher's seven titles and 91 wins.

"In terms of how long I go, that's a bit of an unknown," Hamilton said on Thursday.

"I would say that the Covid lockdown, when we had the first part of the season cancelled, whilst it was a negative in many, many ways, in some ways it gave a lot of life, a lot of energy to focus on some other things.

"That bit of time off was really a bit of breathing space. It gave me a renewed bit of energy to perhaps go longer.

"Also, we're in a period of time where there's not another driver from my background coming up at the moment, and I'm conscious of that as well.

"So my goal is to continue to deliver for as long as I can, I do see myself going for at least another three years."

Updated: July 31, 2020 08:40 AM

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