Lewis Hamilton hailed Real Madrid player Vinicius Jr as ‘incredibly brave’ for his response to racist insults in Spain and said the incidents brought back painful memories from his own career in motor racing.
Brazilian forward Vinicius called LaLiga and Spain racist when he took to social media to complain about the abuse he suffered from the crowd during a match in Valencia on Sunday.
“It’s devastating to think that in 2023 we’re still seeing these things and hearing these things,” seven-time World Champion Hamilton, the sport’s only Black driver, said at the Monaco Grand Prix.
The incidents brings up old emotions
“It really hits home for me, it really brings up emotions about things that I experienced, whether it’s back in the UK or when I was racing in Italy or in France or in Spain. It can be so hurtful the things that people say. I think he’s been incredibly brave.
“I think it’s amazing what so many of these that are experiencing that on the pitch are doing in terms of standing tall, standing strong, continuing to be humble in their approach, not being reactive but being responsible when they are moving forwards because they know there’s lots of young kids that are watching.”
Mercedes driver Hamilton was granted honorary Brazilian citizenship last year, with the country’s parliament highlighting his deep connection with the country where he won his first title in 2008.
The Briton, who was teammate to Spaniard Fernando Alonso at McLaren in a tumultuous 2007 debut season, also experienced racist abuse in Spain when testing at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya in 2008.
Hamilton said sports needed to do more to tackle the problem.
“We all need to continue to do more and if we see it, hear it, we need to do something about it,” he said. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin)