Lewis Hamilton raises ‘big issues’ in explanation on helmet design for Qatar Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton goes undercover to inspire school children

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After earning praise for “an incredible act of allyship” after wearing a rainbow-designed helmet during the Qatar Grand Prix weekend, Lewis Hamilton has explained the “big issues” surrounding the need for it. The seven-time world champion’s helmet bore the Progress Pride flag in support of the LGBTQ+ community as the 36-year-old looked to highlight issues surrounding human rights.

Sexual acts between people of the same sex are illegal in Qatar and are punishable by prison sentences or, in some cases, the death penalty.

Speaking on Thursday, Hamilton said sports that visit these areas are “duty-bound” to raise awareness for these issues, and the places “need scrutiny” adding that “Equal rights is a serious issue.”

When asked by Sky Sports F1 his reasons behind the helmet, the Mercedes driver added: “For months now, I’ve been trying to think, I’ve been thinking about these last three races and the location and trying to educate myself on also the issues that we’re surrounded by here and they’re not small, they’re big issues.

“I’ve been trying to think okay, what is it that I can do, I’m only one person and I think the sport and all the drivers together and athletes can do more.

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“And in the last race I finally came up with the idea and I, luckily, in a really short space of time and got my helmet painter to send me a clip of this image with the flag over my helmet and I was like, that’s what I want for the next race. So can you make it happen?

“He made it happen and then it’s been amazing to see this positive response.

“I’ve not spoken to anybody from the community but I did receive one message from one of my team members who said that it meant a huge amount to them.

“So I hope that it highlights and sparks conversation, I hope the kids here and around whoever is watching are asking what the flag is if they don’t know and why I’m wearing it.

“I hope it sparks positive conversation and change.”

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After debuting the helmet over the weekend, co-founder of Racing Pride, a charity that positively promotes LGBTQ+ inclusivity within the motorsport industry, Richard Morris, told the PA news agency that the gesture “fills me with hope”.

He said: “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.

“It is a demonstration of the capacity the sport has to use its platform positively to promote values of inclusion around the world.

“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 stormed to pole position in Qatar during his first weekend driving on the track, with championship leader Max Verstappen starting second, followed by Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas in third.

Just 14 points separate Verstappen and Hamilton at the top of the driver standings, with Mercedes topping the Constructors’ Championship by 11 points with three races remaining.

The Qatar Grand Prix gets underway at 2pm GMT on Sunday.

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