Lewis Hamilton says Vinicius Jr.’s racist attack evokes painful memories

(CNN) — Seven-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton said on Thursday the racism suffered by Real Madrid forward Vinicius Jr. in the Spanish league reminded him of his own experiences of discrimination in his career.

“It is devastating to think that in 2023 we are still seeing and hearing these things,” Hamilton said during his press conference ahead of this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix.

“It really affects me, it makes me feel the things I’ve been through, whether it’s in the UK or when I was racing in Italy, France or Spain.”

“It can be very offensive what people say. First of all, I think [Vinicius Jr.] he was incredibly brave. I think it’s amazing how many of these [atletas] who are experiencing it in the field are doing in terms of staying strong and strong,” Hamilton said.

“Vinícius Jr. was incredibly brave,” said Lewis Hamilton. (Credit: Stephane Mahe/Reuters)

Hamilton, the only black driver currently racing in Formula 1, added that he believed more attention was needed to effectively combat racism. He had previously recounted his racist experiences at school, and in November 2021 he was racially abused by former Brazilian F1 driver Nelson Piquet.

“There is no place for discrimination, I think, in today’s society. Sport has to do more, we all have to keep doing more. If we see it, if we hear it, we have to do something about it,” said the 38 years old.

Vinicius Jr. suffered constant racist abuse from some Valencia fans during a match played this Sunday at the Mestalla stadium.

The Brazilian player has been subjected to racial abuse from the stands on 10 occasions during league matches over the past two seasons. Seven people were arrested on Tuesday in connection with incidents of racist abuse directed at the Madrid star this season.

Real Madrid’s Vinicius Junior reacts after receiving racist abuse during the LaLiga Santander match between Valencia CF and Real Madrid CF at Mestalla Stadium on May 21, 2023 in Valencia, Spain. Credit: Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images

New contract with Mercedes

Meanwhile, Hamilton says his new contract with Mercedes is ‘almost ready’, following reports linking the 38-year-old Briton to a move to Ferrari.

“My team is working closely behind the scenes with Toto [Wolff]we are almost at the end of the preparation of the contract,” Hamilton told reporters, referring to the Mercedes team principal.

“Having the team focused on that, so I can do my job, is a much better position than before. I remember I used to do all the negotiations myself, and it was very stressful, so I don’t have to.”

Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur also clarified that the Italian team has not held talks with Hamilton.

“You know very well that at this point in the season you will have a different story every week and we will not send Lewis Hamilton an offer. We have not.”

The Monaco Grand Prix takes place on Sunday at the Circuit de Monaco.