Stewart denies F1 has major racism issue amid Hamilton’s fight for equality

Three-time Formula One world champion Sir Jackie Stewart has denied claims there is a major diversity issue within the sport – as Lewis Hamilton continues his fight for equality.

In the wake of the death of George Floyd at the hands of the police, Hamilton, 35, criticised his sport's failure to combat racism and has been vocal in his demands to encourage more diversity in F1.

The British superstar performed a Black Power salute on top of his Mercedes and again on the podium following his triumph in Austria on Sunday.

He also announced before the season that he will launch the Hamilton Commission in the hope of improving diversity in F1. Hamilton remains the only black driver on the grid.

But F1 icon Stewart, 81, played down talk of a problems with diversity and insisted education was the way forward.

Speaking to Good Morning Britain on Thursday, the Scot said: "I think Lewis has been a great example to lots of people. He's quite vocal about these elements, I don't think there's as big a problem as there might seem.

"There is no resistance for change if someone is clever and good at what they do. They will be accepted in Formula One.

"What we need to do is be sure whatever colour, man or women, they have to be educated in that particular area of engineering and if we had different races wanting to get into Formula One they have to do it through education."

Meanwhile Hamilton said he has spoken to some of the drivers who have not taken a knee – and hopes to unite the grid on the issue.

Just 11 of the 20 drivers joined Hamilton in performing the anti-racism gesture ahead of Sunday's Styrian Grand Prix.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, Ferrari's Charles Leclerc, and 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen are among those who have elected to stand before the opening two grands prix.

"We had the drivers' briefing on Friday, and afterwards we all stayed on and debated whether to take a knee again," said Hamilton, who claimed his first victory of the season with a dominant performance at Spielberg's Red Bull Ring. "I said I am going to continue to do it.

"After the Zoom call, I tried to spend one-on-one time with a few of those who had chosen to stand, and to have a chat with them.

"Some of the drivers maybe don't fully understand how impactful their voices can be to people. Some of them don't want to support 'Black Lives Matter' but they stand for anti-racism, which is the same thing.

"I have made it clear that I am not supporting the political side but the human rights' side of things.

"From the drivers' point of view we are going to come closer through this. I am not saying that everyone is going to take a knee. But over time as we get to talk about it more often I would like to think we will all be together in the understanding of it."

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