Lewis Hamilton has been targeted by racist abuse on social media after taking the chequered flag at Sunday's British Grand Prix – his 99th race victory – following a high-speed collision with Max Verstappen on the first lap of the race.
Bouncing back from a 10-second penalty awarded for the incident at Copse corner – one of the fastest in the F1 calendar, taken at around 180mph – Hamilton scooped the trophy, claiming a record-breaking eighth win at Silverstone.
Having dropped to fifth place, the seven-time world champion fought hard to overtake Charles Leclerc, making the pass with just two laps remaining. When Hamilton and his Mercedes team sent out Instagram posts celebrating the victory, the comments section was hit with abusive messages and racial slurs.
Formula One, the FIA and Mercedes released a joint statement "condemning this behaviour in the strongest possible terms". They wrote: "During, and after, yesterday's British Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton was subjected to multiple instances of racist abuse on social media following an in-race collision.
"These people have no place in our sport and we urge that those responsible should be held accountable for their actions. Formula 1, the FIA, the drivers and the teams are working to build a more diverse and inclusive sport, and such unacceptable instances of online abuse must be highlighted and eliminated."
The comments come less than a week after Hamilton – one of the UK's most high-profile supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement and the only driver of colour in the history of Formula 1 – spoke out against the racial abuse of England footballers Bukayo Saka, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford after the Euros final.
"The pressure to deliver is felt by every sportsperson but when you are a minority representing your country this is a layered experience," he'd said. "Success would feel like a double victory, but a miss feels like a two-fold failure when its compounded with racist abuse." (continued below)
Among the remarks left online were messages calling Hamilton a "hypocrite" for celebrating his win. Addressing the crowd at Silverstone, the British racing driver told fans: "This is a dream for me today, to do it in front of you all. I always try to be measured in how I approach, particularly with battling with Max, he's very aggressive. And then today I was fully alongside him and he didn't leave space.
"Regardless of whether I agree with the penalty, I take it on the chin and I just kept working. I was like 'I'm not going to let anything get in the way of the crowd's enjoyment of the weekend and the national anthem and the British flag'."
Verstappen, who crashed into the tyre wall when the pair went wheel-to-wheel, called Hamilton "disrespectful and unsportsmanlike" for celebrating the victory. After precautionary checks at Coventry Hospital, the Red Bull driver was released without any major injuries. The result cut his championship lead to eight points going into the Hungarian Grand Prix.
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