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Lewis Hamilton has been praised for “an incredible act of allyship” after wearing a rainbow-coloured helmet ahead of the inaugural Qatar Grand Prix.
Mercedes shared pictures of the seven-time world champion’s protective gear on Friday, with drivers taking part in the first practice session of the weekend.
The 36-year-old’s helmet bore the colours of the Progress Pride flag – a banner which includes the traditional rainbow design in addition to a series of coloured chevrons that recognise the diversity of the LGBTQ+ community.
First look at LH’s new lid. 🌈😍 pic.twitter.com/kpS2YwkKyJ
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) November 19, 2021
A purple circle on a yellow background, meanwhile, represents the intersex flag.
Richard Morris, 30, is a British racing driver and co-founder of Racing Pride and told the PA news agency that the gesture “fills me with hope”.
He said: “It is an incredible act of allyship from Lewis to show solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community in the context of Formula One visiting a region in which LGBTQ+ people face discrimination and challenges to their human rights.
“It is a demonstration of the capacity the sport has to use its platform positively to promote values of inclusion around the world.
“When I was growing up and getting into motorsport there weren’t any LGBTQ+ out drivers for me to look up to, and nobody in the sport was discussing or showing support for LGBTQ+ inclusion.
“So it fills me with hope that we are now seeing drivers like Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel be active champions for inclusion.
This is what we mean when we talk about using your platform for good and carrying your values with you. The symbolism of this, in one of the world’s most dangerous regions for #LGBTQ+ people, is enormously powerful. I can’t even express my admiration for Lewis today.
— Richard Morris (@RichardMRacing) November 19, 2021
“There’s a lot more work to be done in the sport, but we are starting to move in the right direction.”
Hamilton earlier called on F1 stars and other sportspeople to speak out against human rights issues which plague countries such as Qatar.
His friend and rival Vettel wore a T-shirt in support of the LGBTQ+ community at the Hungarian Grand Prix earlier in the season.