F1 Driver Lewis Hamilton Receives Racist Comments for Winning Race After Crashing Into Competitor
Formula One said "such unacceptable instances of online abuse must be highlighted and eliminated"
Lewis Hamilton, the only Black driver in Formula 1 who often uses his platform to raise awareness for social issues, faced racist attacks online after winning a race on Sunday.
At the British Grand Prix, the 36-year-old driver finished in first place after he crashed with competitor Max Verstappen, sending his competitor out of the race and to the hospital.
"Today is a reminder of the dangers we face in this sport and we should never take lightly the risks," Hamilton wrote on Instagram after the race. "I send my best wishes to Max who is an incredible competitor and I'm glad to hear he is ok. I will always race hard but always fairly."
He added that it was a "dream to win in front of my home crowd" and told fans to "never give up, keep rising, keep fighting."
Hamilton incurred a 10-second penalty for the crash but still came out victorious.
After he was named the winner, his Instagram and other social media platform were flooded with trolls using racial slurs and monkey emojis against the driver in comment sections, according to Sky Sports.
"Formula 1, The FIA and Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team condemn this behaviour in the strongest possible terms. These people have no place in our sport and we urge that those responsible should be held accountable for their actions," read a statement shared by Hamilton's team Monday. "Formula One, the FIA, the drivers and teams are working to build a more diverse and inclusive sport and such unacceptable instances of online abuse must be highlighted and eliminated."
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Verstappen spoke out following his accident, tweeting that he was "very disappointed with being taken out like this," calling it a "dangerous move Lewis made on track." He also wrote that "watching the celebrations while still in hospital is disrespectful and unsportsmanlike behavior but we move on."
Also on Sunday night, he tweeted, "Cleared from the hospital after all the checks were ok. Thank you to everyone for all the nice messages and best wishes."
A spokesperson for Facebook told CBS News that it was removing "unacceptable" racist comments from Instagram, saying, "No single thing will fix this challenge overnight but we're committed to the work to keep our community safe from abuse."
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Speaking with PEOPLE in November, Hamilton said he would continue using his position as a star athlete to encourage, among other things, more diversity in his own sport.
"I still feel young and energized," he said at the time, squashing any imminent retirement speculation. "I don't feel I'm finished. I feel like I'm getting better, so I'm going to keep racing for a bit, I think. I know the goal has always been this. In doing what I'm doing, if one young kid sees me doing it and doing it well — and realizing that I started in the same humble beginnings as them — maybe by seeing me, hopefully, that encourages them."