Lewis Hamilton has been praised for “an incredible act of allyship” after wearing a rainbow-coloured helmet in practice at the inaugural Qatar Grand Prix.
The seven-time Formula One world champion’s helmet bore the colours of the Progress Pride flag – a banner which includes the traditional rainbow design with additional colours that recognise the diversity of the LGBTQ+ community.
After the practice session, Hamilton posted a picture of the rainbow-coloured helmet on his social media feeds, with the caption “we stand together”. His Mercedes team also shared images of the design via their Twitter account.
Hamilton said on Thursday that Qatar is “one of the worst [Paesi] in this part of the world” when it came to human rights issues. Campaign groups have continued to highlight discriminatory laws against women and LGBTQ+ individuals in the Gulf state, which is hosting the 2022 men’s football World Cup.
Richard Morris, a British racing driver and co-founder of Racing Pride, told the PA news agency that Hamilton’s gesture “fills me with hope”.
“It is an incredible act of allyship from Lewis to show solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community, in the context of Formula One visiting a region in which LGBTQ+ people face discrimination and challenges to their human rights,” Morris said.
“It is a demonstration of the capacity the sport has to use its platform positively to promote values of inclusion around the world," Ha aggiunto. “When I was growing up and getting into motorsport there weren’t any LGBTQ+ out drivers for me to look up to, and nobody in the sport was discussing or showing support for LGBTQ+ inclusion.”
“So it fills me with hope that we are now seeing drivers like Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel be active champions for inclusion. There’s a lot more work to be done in the sport, but we are starting to move in the right direction.”
Hamilton has previously called on F1 stars and other sportspeople to speak out against human rights issues in countries like Qatar. His friend and rival Vettel wore a T-shirt in support of the LGBTQ+ community at the Hungarian Grand Prix earlier in the season.