Last year, in support of police shooting victim, Breonna Taylor, who died at the hands of a botched “no-knock” raid, Lewis Hamilton wore a T-shirt that read, “Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor.”
It was a risky move especially for the only Black race track driver in the history of Formula One. Hamilton is now being awarded the Innovator Awards’ first-ever sports innovator distinction.
In an interview with WSJ Magazine, the race car driver, who also gives his assistance to environmental and animal rights causes, spoke candidly about the T-shirt.
He said in the interview, “I can’t be second. I’m wearing that shirt. I’ve got to get to first to bring light to her name. I get these nerves like, ‘Shoot, I’m about to break the rules and people aren’t going to be happy with it.’
ESPN reported last September that shortly after Hamilton wore the t-shirt, Formula One’s governing body had changed pre and post-race rules for driver attire so that world champion Hamilton wouldn’t be allowed to wear any similarly worded T-shirts on the podium.
The new rules had required drivers to wear T-shirts with the “End Racism” message in the pre-race activity before the national anthem. The FIA also stated that the drivers could still have their own words and/or individual gesture of support but that it has to be “in accordance with the fundamental principles” of the FIA statutes.
The drivers were also allowed other gestures, including taking the knee or standing with arms crossed or head bowed. After the race is completed, the top three drivers must keep their race suits done up to the neck, not opened to the waist, throughout the formal part of the proceedings.
“They’ve changed a lot of rules after a lot of things that I’ve done,” Hamilton said.