Christian Horner has been accused of giving ‘racists an excuse to let fly their vitriol and evil’ at Lewis Hamilton following his criticism of the Mercedes driver after Sunday’s British Grand Prix.
Lord Hain, vice-chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Formula One, believes Horner will ‘regret’ the remarks he made in the wake of Hamilton’s 180mph collision with Max Verstappen on the opening lap of the Silverstone race.
Seven-time world champion Hamilton, 36, who is a vocal supporter of the BLM movement and is leading a campaign for more racing drivers from black and ethnic minority groups, was subjected to online racist abuse — during and after the race. He was bombarded with monkey emojis and called a gorilla.
Facebook, who are the owners of Instagram, have come under fire after taking no action against scores of accounts who racially abused Hamilton – the Center for Countering Digital Hate had tracked 31 accounts which had abused the driver and reported them to the social media platform.
Red Bull joined Mercedes and F1 in condemning the abuse on Monday, and team principal Horner posted a message on social media, saying: ‘Whilst the rivalry is intense on track, highly-charged emotions should never cross the line into racist abuse.’
But Hain, a Labour peer, told the PA news agency: ‘Racists had an excuse to let fly their vitriol and evil at Lewis after what I thought was a very ill-judged, intemperate and plain wrong attack on him by Christian Horner.
Christian Horner has been accused of giving ‘racists an excuse to let fly their vitriol and evil’
Lord Hain believes Horner will ‘regret’ the remarks he made in the wake of Hamilton’s collision
‘I am not suggesting that Christian was implying anything racist in what he said. He was talking in pure racing terms and not racist terms and that is obvious.
‘I hope it was something said in the heat of the moment when Christian was feeling aggrieved. But these are moments when leadership is required and not intemperate outbursts.’
Horner accused Hamilton of risking Verstappen’s life in the 180mph collision that overshadowed the Briton’s victory at Silverstone on Sunday.
Asked if Hamilton’s move at Copse corner could have killed his driver, the Red Bull chief said: ‘Of course. His actions have put in jeopardy another driver’s safety and for me that is unacceptable.
‘Every driver knows that a move at that corner — one of the fastest in Formula One — is a massive, massive risk.
‘You don’t put a wheel up the inside without there being huge consequences. We are lucky today that there wasn’t someone seriously hurt.
‘What I am most angry about is the lack of judgment, and the desperation in this move. It was never on.’
Hamilton was given a 10-second penalty by race stewards for his role in the crash but he recovered and passed Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc with just over two laps remaining to win his home race for the eighth time.
Verstappen, 23, said afterwards after being released from Coventry hospital at 10pm on Sunday night following tests: ‘I’m glad I am OK. I am very disappointed with being taken out like this. The penalty given does not help us and doesn’t do justice to the dangerous move Lewis made on track.
‘The celebrations, while I am still in hospital, were disrespectful and unsportsmanlike behaviour, but we move on.’
Hamilton responded by saying he will continue to race ‘hard but fairly’.
In a tweet, he said: ‘Today is a reminder of the dangers in this sport. I send my best wishes to Max who is an incredible competitor. I’m glad to hear he is OK.
‘I will always race hard but always fairly. My team showed grit and perseverance out there. It’s a dream to win in front of my home crowd.’
He also dismissed Horner’s criticism, saying: ‘I don’t really have anything to say to Christian. The win doesn’t feel hollow.
‘I don’t think I am in a position to have to apologise for anything. We are out there racing.
‘I don’t agree with the stewards but I take my penalty on the chin and get on with my job. I am not going to whine about it.
‘Everyone is going to have a different opinion and I don’t really care what people think so I just do what I do and I am really grateful for today.’
Mercedes has hinted that police should investigate some of the vile slurs aimed at their star driver and called on social media companies to do more to stop racist posts before they go online – and close the accounts of the culprits.
Imran Ahmed, CEO of the Center for Countering Digital Hate said: ‘It is beyond belief, after all the promises made in the last week by social media companies, that Instagram has failed to take any action against its users who have now racially abused Lewis Hamilton.
‘By failing to act on racism towards England players last week, Instagram have created a culture of impunity for racists. ‘It has publicly promised to issue automatic lifetime bans when it has clear, irrefutable evidence of serious racial hatred.
‘But from its failure to identify monkey emojis as racist, to its flat-out refusal to issue lifetime bans to racists, Instagram—and its parent company Facebook—have chosen to side with racists over the victims of racial hatred.
‘The values and business model that underpin this powerful industry are broken beyond repair. It’s time for the Government to pass serious legislation which will force Big Tech to keep their promises and finally clean up their platforms.’