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Hamilton in Sochi on Thursday

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Hamilton plays down significance of records, makes F1 equality pledge

Hamilton in Sochi on Thursday © FIA/AFP / Mark Sutton

Sochi, Russian Federation, Sep 24 – Lewis Hamilton played down the prospect of drawing level with Michael Schumacher’s record 91 Grand Prix wins this weekend, saying Thursday there were other more important matters in the world.

Speaking during a video news conference ahead of Sunday’s Russian Grand Prix, where he is favourite to secure his seventh win of the season and equal Schumacher’s career total, the six-time champion also warned that winning was not likely to be a straightforward task.

“Honestly, I don’t know what it means to me,” the Mercedes champion said.

“I don’t know what to say. Firstly, I have to get my work done and Valtteri (Bottas, his Mercedes team-mate) has said already himself that he is very fast on this track.

“We also have to look at Red Bull…. I have to win first.”

He added that it would be meaningful for him, but it should not be taken for granted.

“At some point, it will probably happen, but I don’t know what it means to me… Of course, there’s so much else going on in the world, but, of course, it’s an honour.”

Hamilton had earlier expressed his disappointment at the outcome of the grand jury indictment in Louisville, Kentucky, where Breonna Taylor was shot dead by police in her own home last March. No one was charged with her murder.

Hamilton wore a t-shirt with the message ‘Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor’ at the Tuscan Grand Prix two weeks ago.

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He pledged to increase the number of black people in motor racing as he announced the members of his Hamilton Commission aimed at tackling diversity in the sport.

“What is more concerning is that there are still very few people of colour across the sport as a whole,” Hamilton said in a statement.

“In F1, our teams are much bigger than the athletes that front them, but representation is insufficient across every skill set — from the garage to the engineers in the factories and design departments.”

Hamilton has been a leading advocate of the Black Lives Matter movement and a leading figure in Formula One’s anti-racism initiative this year.

“I don’t regret a single moment,” said Hamilton, referring to the t-shirt he wore and a subsequent furore in which some critics called for an investigation.

“I usually pull on my heart and do what I feel is right. I felt that was me following my heart.

“I also did something that’s never really happened in Formula One and obviously they’ll stop it from happening moving forward.

“People do talk about sport not being a place for politics. Ultimately it’s human rights issues and, in my opinion, that is something we should be pushing towards.

“We have a huge collective, an amazing group of people that watch our sport, multiple different backgrounds and cultures, and we should definitely be pushing positive messages towards them, especially for equality.”

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