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Ex-F1 driver Karun Chandhok backs Lewis Hamilton's anti-racism posts

Former HRT and Lotus Formula One driver Karun Chandhok has backed Lewis Hamilton for his recent ...
Stephen Doyle
Stephen Doyle

13.56 9 Jun 2020


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Ex-F1 driver Karun Chandhok ba...

Ex-F1 driver Karun Chandhok backs Lewis Hamilton's anti-racism posts

Stephen Doyle
Stephen Doyle

13.56 9 Jun 2020


Share this article


Former HRT and Lotus Formula One driver Karun Chandhok has backed Lewis Hamilton for his recent social media posts highlighting racism.

Like Hamilton, who is the only black driver in the white-dominated sport, Chandhok was in a minority when he was still racing.

Chandhok is one of only two Indian drivers to have competed in Formula One and he hopes that Hamilton's decison to speak out in recent days will make people in the sport think more about racism and discrimination.

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"I think he was right to call out the rest of the paddock and the rest of the sport, which he did," said Chandhok on Sky Sports.

"I spoke to a number of people within the sport subsequently who thought it was a bit unfair because they didn't believe themselves to be racist and thought he was generalising. I think that misses the point.

"Lewis's message really seemed to be that, it's not enough to be non-racist.

"He was calling for people within the sport, especially those with a platform to speak publicly through social media and stuff, to be actively anti-racist and he's right.

"Drivers who have lots of followers on Instagram and Twitter and all these things or in the media, it means publicly speaking up to raise awareness of racial biases which do exist and to make the wider world look for signs in day-to-day life and perhaps get themselves some books and educate themselves on the topic."

Chandouk - now an F1 analyst with Sky - admits that his own experience is different to Hamilton, having grown up in India and then only moving to the UK when he was 18.

He does not feel he was treated differently on the track or by the teams he raced with or in his work as a broadcaster and analyst.

However, Chandhok gave examples of times when he felt he was being discriminated against.

"Today a few more people know who I am but when I was younger in Formula Three, for example, I remember going to the race tracks and the security guards spent more time looking at my pass then they would at someone else's.

"And even recently, for example, races last year - the odd ones where they do the security check - they check our bags.

"There's a certain tone that you're spoken to, there's a certain way...or the number of times that your bag gets searched.

"It's hard for me to put into words unless you've experienced it, to really describe it but there's an undertone there that you feel certainly.

"It's and unfortunate part of the subconscious biases that exist in society on the whole.

"I think the issues that Lewis is trying to raise, it's unfortunate that there are these biases.

"A simple example, I remember going to pick up my wife on a few occasions and white people have got off the train and tried to get into the back seat of my car because they assumed I was a taxi driver.

"I'm not immediately saying or thinking that those people are necessarily racist and I'm sure they don't think that they're racist but somewhere in their subconscious, it triggers that reaction.

"I hope that through this process, it's getting those people to think about those decisions and the way they live their lives and I think that is what Lewis is trying to do, is to get people to try and be a bit more actively anti-racist rather than just non-racist."


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