Lewis Hamilton says racist attack on Vinicius Jr. brings up painful memories

(CNN) — Seven-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton said on Thursday that the racism faced by Real Madrid striker Vinicius Jr. in the Spanish championship reminded him of his own experiences of discrimination in his career.

“It’s devastating to think that in 2023 we’re still seeing these things and hearing these things,” Hamilton said in his press conference ahead of this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix.

“It really affects me, it makes me feel emotions about things I’ve been through, whether it was in the UK or when I was racing in Italy, France or Spain.”

“What people say can be very hurtful. First of all, I think [Vinicius Jr.] he was incredibly brave. I think it’s amazing how many of them [atletas] who are going through this on the pitch are doing in terms of staying strong and strong,” Hamilton said.

“Vinícius Jr. was incredibly brave,” Lewis Hamilton said. (Credit: Stéphane Mahé/Reuters)

Hamilton, the only black driver currently racing in Formula 1, added that he believed more attention was needed to effectively tackle racism. In the past, he had already recounted his own racist experiences at school, and in November 2021 he was the victim of racist abuse from former Brazilian F1 driver Nelson Piquet.

“There is no place for discrimination, I think, in today’s society. Sport has to do more, we all have to keep doing more. If we see it, if we hear it, we have to do something,” the 38-year-old said.

Vinicius Jr. suffered persistent racial slurs from some Valencia fans during a game played this Sunday at the Mestalla stadium.

The Brazilian player has been the victim of racist insults from the stands 10 times in league matches over the past two seasons. Seven people were arrested on Tuesday in connection with incidents of racial slurs against the Madrid star this season.

Vinicius Junior of Real Madrid reacts after receiving racist slurs during the LaLiga Santander match between Valencia CF and Real Madrid CF at Mestalla Stadium on May 21, 2023 in Valencia, Spain. Credit: Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images

New contract with Mercedes

Meanwhile, Hamilton says his new contract with Mercedes is “almost ready”, after reports linked the 38-year-old Briton with a move to Ferrari.

“My team works closely behind the scenes with Toto [Wolff]we are almost on the verge of having the contract ready,” Hamilton told reporters, referring to the Mercedes team principal.

“Que el equipo se center en eso, para que yo pueda hacer mi trabajo, es una posición mucho better que la que tenía antes. Do that”.

Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur also clarified that the Italian team had no talks with Hamilton.

“You know very well that at this stage of the season every week you’ll have a different story and we’re not going to send Lewis Hamilton an offer. We haven’t.”

The Monaco Grand Prix takes place on Sunday at the Circuit de Monaco.

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