LEWIS HAMILTON has decided against making a controversial political statement at the United States Grand Prix – for the moment.
The Brit was weighing up plans to join the wave of American athletes dropping to one knee during the National Anthem – which would be hugely embarrassing for the sport’s American owners, who have pulled out all the stops to make this race a showpiece by hiring singer Justin Timberlake and booking Usain Bolt to start the race.
Hamilton has posted on Instagram that he is supporting the movement started by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who knelt during the anthem as a reaction to racial injustice and police brutality.
Those protests have grown following widespread criticism from President Donald Trump, who Hamilton is not a fan of, yet he says he will not making his own stand during Sunday’s pre-race rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner.
He said: “I don’t really have a position and I don’t have any plans [to do it]. There has been a lot of mention of it – not of the kneeling – but just of the whole situation.
“I know a lot of people in America so I get to speak a lot of black and white people who live here.
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“I get quite a good view of what is happening here in the States and opinions from the Americans and about the movement which I think is pretty huge. I have posted about it because I respect it highly and I find the movement that started awesome.
“I am very much in support of it. But I am here to win and that is at the top of my priorities and I am not really focused on anything else.
“Winning here is the most important thing for me in the midst that all is going on in the country. That is a priority. You know what I am talking about.
“I am here to win and that is my focus. I don’t really plan on allowing all the BS that is surrounding the topic to pull me down in my stride to win this world title.
“I have worked hard to be where I am today, and whilst I do have opinions and feelings towards the while situation, at the moment I have no plans on doing anything.”
Hamilton could win the title in Austin this weekend if he wins and Sebastian Vettel is outside the top five.
However, the three-time world champion is refusing to get carried away about the prospect of clinching his fourth world crown.
He added: “Talk of the championship win here is silly really. Sebastian, you cannot expect him to have a difficult weekend, they are going to be quick.
“He has been strong all year. He has had a few technical issues, but the car is as good as it has always been. They will be strong this weekend and the last four races. That is why nothing changes.
“I have to continue to keep the pressure on. There is no reason to back out, I have to keep pushing forward.”
Meanwhile, Fernando Alonso has signed a new deal that will keep him at McLaren for next season.
The 36-year-old will earn around £26million on the lucrative deal and will drive alongside Stoffel Vandoorne in 2018.
He said: “It’s fantastic to be able to continue my relationship with everybody at McLaren. It was always where my heart was telling me to stay, and I really feel at home here.
“This is a fantastic team, full of incredible people, with a warmth and friendliness that I’ve never experienced elsewhere in Formula One. I’m incredibly happy to be racing here.”
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