Lewis Hamilton publicly thanked Haas ‘Romain Grosjean after the director of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association said Thursday that his stance on the pre-race “End Racism” race was “wrong.”
Grosjean – one of three GPDA directors, along with Sebastian Vettel and Alexander Wurz – said ahead of the British Grand Prix weekend that he contacted Hamilton after the Hungarian Grand Prix to discuss his treatment of whether or whether not the drivers would continue the “End Racism” ceremony before the race. Grosjean announced that he had previously voiced concerns from some drivers who wanted to end the ceremony after the first race in Austria.
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“I spoke to Lewis,” said Grosjean, “we actually had a 45-minute call on Tuesday after the race.” [in Hungary] and actually a really good conversation about a lot of things and Formula 1 in general, but obviously the topic was “end racism”.
“We had, I would say, seven or eight drivers who were not happy to continue the ceremony as it was held … in Austria. And I said to Lewis, maybe I did it wrong, but I felt that as one of the directors – because Sebastian [Vettel] urged to continue end racism, which is the right approach – I spoke for drivers who were not happy to continue to express their voice as the director of the GPDA.
“If I think about it now, it was probably the wrong thing. Lewis had some good arguments, I had some, but I think it was wrong. “
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Hamilton was informed of Grosjean’s comments during Thursday’s press conference at Silverstone, saying he had “really appreciated” both Grosjean’s shot earlier in the day and the couple’s previous phone call.
“I wasn’t aware of that [Grosjean’s comments] But I was already impressed with the conversation we had afterwards and how he approached our conversation, ”said Hamilton. “He originally contacted me to speak after the last race, so I called him and we had this great conversation.
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“In the end it was very informative for both of us and we learned that we actually have more in common than we might think. He is clearly a caring person, so hearing that he said that – it is initially not easy for anyone to admit that we are wrong, and this is a great first step. However, the fact is, when we hung up, I knew that we agreed and would work towards the same common goal.
“So I really appreciated Romain [doing that], and that’s really what we all have to do to really open our minds, not to build our barriers, not to be defensive, to be open-minded and to acknowledge that there is a problem – sometimes that’s the first step. Then how can we work to make it better? “
Earlier in the day, Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo had said he would prefer to continue the ceremony and kneel for the rest of the season – a stance that Hamilton agreed to.
“At the last race, I said I would talk to the heads of sports and try to get in touch with them and see how we could move forward together,” said Hamilton. “I had really great conversations with them to understand what they were planning and what they wanted to do to move forward and to make sure they knew we were all on the same team here.
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“To give things like us a little bit more time at the beginning of the race so that we can really show how united we are as a sport because other sports have done better to do it consistently. They were really open-minded, and I think it has to go on like this all year round, so I believe that we will continue to do so.
“It’s ongoing work to bring us all together,” he added, “and I think it’s going in the right direction.”