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Lewis Hamilton, the top driver in Formula One, feels alone in the battle against racism

Lewis Hamilton takes a knee beside the Hungarian Grand Prix trophy Sunday. (Mark Thompson/AP)

Lewis Hamilton’s victory in Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix didn’t distract him from what he has observed as large cracks in the foundation of Formula One’s anti-racism movement.

Before the race, a disorganized scene played out before the Hungarian national anthem. Hamilton, wearing a “Black Lives Matter” T-shirt, took a knee with other drivers, such as Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who wore “End racism” shirts. Other drivers arrived late, failing to display a unified front.

It’s the second straight week an intended united message was undercut by disjointedness. Last week in Austria, most drivers took a knee but some did not, and some, according to Hamilton, asked, “How long do we have to continue to do this?

“Some felt like one was enough last week, and I just had to [tell] them that racism is going to be here for probably longer than our time here,” said Hamilton, who raised his fist on the podium last weekend after winning the Styrian Grand Prix.

Before the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix on July 5, all 20 drivers were together wearing shirts denouncing racism, with 14 taking a knee along with Hamilton, F1′s only black driver.

The six-time season champion has noticed that an initial effort to address the issue hasn’t necessarily sustained over the past two weeks.

“It’s not good enough, in terms of what you see in other sports. It’s almost like it’s gone off the agenda,” Hamilton said after securing his second straight win Sunday. “It’s lacking leadership, and ultimately there needs to be leadership from the top. Currently there is none of that.”

He said for some it’s a matter of not being able to relate to the issue.

“I don’t think it’s being taken serious,” Hamilton said. “I think there are perhaps people who have not grown up around it and don’t understand it.

“There definitely is not enough support for it. From a driver’s point of view, well, many people seem to be of the opinion they’ve [taken a knee] once and [are] not going to do it again. I don’t know their reasons for that opinion. All I could say is we’re not doing nearly enough. I think ultimately it’s still individuals thinking it’s not important.”

Hamilton said he plans to contact Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile President Jean Todt to discuss how management is coordinating its anti-racism message.

“I will get in touch with Formula One this week. I will speak to Jean, because no one else is going to do it,” Hamilton said. “I think we need a leader. Where is Jean in that scenario?”

Hamilton’s win Sunday was his eighth Hungarian Grand Prix victory, tying him with Michael Schumacher for the most wins at a single circuit. Hamilton is vying for his seventh season championship, which would tie him with Schumacher for most all-time. The season resumes Aug. 2 with the British Grand Prix.

Hamilton said in June that he would create a commission to increase diversity in racing.

“There are a lot of people that just take a moment to post Blackout Tuesday [on social networks], but they’re not really doing much,” he said days before the Austrian Grand Prix. “I won’t stop pushing until we really see change. Seeing one person of color added to the paddock is not diversity, so we’ve really got to dig deep.”

Last weekend, Hamilton praised his Mercedes team, which changed its cars’ colors from silver to black to support the Black Lives Matter movement, but he said other teams are lagging.

“F1 has come forward and said they are supporting ending racism, and it is amazing to see Mercedes is also doing that. But no other team has done a single thing,” Hamilton said. “The Red Bull mechanics have taken a knee, but if you look at Ferrari, they have thousands of people working for them, but I have heard no word of Ferrari saying that they hold themselves accountable and what they are going to do in the future.

“We have to continue to push for equality and raise awareness. For me, personally, it is going to be a lifelong thing.”

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