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Why Lewis Hamilton is the champion 2020 needed

Why Lewis Hamilton is the champion 2020 needed

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Why Lewis Hamilton is the champion 2020 needed

Why Lewis Hamilton is the champion 2020 needed

Lewis Hamilton may have dominated Formula 1 over the past seven years but at the end of what has been a very different season, he is exactly the champion the sport needed.

Hamilton's ability has never been in question. The Briton has secured six of the last seven titles, with his only 'failure' in 2016 when he was beaten by then Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg.

Ten victories in 14 races to date have resulted in Hamilton equalling the record championship haul of Michael Schumacher, while surpassing the legendary German's previously landmark total of 91 wins en route.

Yet while Hamilton has again been imperious on track, it is not because of his talent behind the wheel that makes him the champion that was required, it is more for his efforts away from the circuit that leads me to this conclusion.

In May, George Floyd, a black American, was killed when Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes, leading to his death.

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The resultant news coverage and video footage that went viral sparked protests across America and Europe as black and ethnic minority groups said enough is enough and sought to tackle the issue of discrimination head-on,

Black actors, musicians and sportspeople spoke out as the issue of racism in modern society became mainstream news. It was now impossible to ignore the calls to create an equal and accepting global community.

These calls were heard by sports around the world, with athletes taking the knee prior to the commencement of an event, with Formula 1 possessing a leader of the cause in Hamilton.

The Mercedes driver threw his support behind the Black Lives Matters campaign, aided by the backing of the team. In recognition of the campaign and the need for change, Mercedes dispensed with the traditional silver bodywork on its cars and opted for an all-black exterior.

Formula 1 also acknowledged the need for change and launched the 'We Race as One' initiative as a joint effort to combat racism, inequality and Covid-19.

While there were mixed messages over the taking of a knee prior to a race, with some drivers preferring to stand, F1 managed to get its act together by producing a video now played ahead of each grand prix in which all deliver a message denouncing racism.

Additionally, Hamilton has launched 'The Hamilton Commission' in partnership with the Royal Academy of Engineering, that has been designed to explore how motorsport can be used as a vehicle to engage more young people from black backgrounds in the STEM subjects of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, with the hope of future employment with a team or elsewhere in the engineering sector."

As Hamilton noted: "The time for platitudes and token gestures is over."

Refusing to let the anti-racism message drift out of public consciousness, Hamilton has maintained a consistent message both at the track and across social media, although did touch a political nerve with the FIA when he wore a t-shirt bearing the slogan 'Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor'.

That was in reference to the death of another black woman at the hands of police in America. He has not got it right all the time in the eyes of motorsport's lawmakers who have at least opted against clamping down on the 35-year-old when he has performed a 'Black Power' raised-fist salute on occasion after winning races.

Arguably, Hamilton's crowning achievement this year came following his victory in the Styrian Grand Prix when he invited Petronas trackside fluid engineer Stephanie Travers to join him on the podium to accept the constructors' trophy.

In doing so, Travers became the first female of colour to stand on an F1 podium. Not only was this a step in the right direction for racial equality, but also for gender equality.

Despite his success, though, and perhaps even because of it, Hamilton is a driver who continues to divide opinion, yet he has made it his mission to influence and change the opinions of his detractors.

There will be those who will listen and accept, and those who will firmly believe he should simply stick to racing and let others more eminently qualified attempt to right the wrongs in the world.

Hamilton, however, has now embarked on a path he feels it is his duty to explore and to lend his knowledge and experience along the way.

So in a year in which the issues of racism, equality and diversity have hit the front pages and stayed there, I can say that without a doubt Hamilton is the champion F1 most definitely needed this year.

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