The father of Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton has spoken out about the resumption of motorsport amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis, just one day after F1 announced its revised calendar for the remainder of the season.
On Tuesday, it was announced that the season will resume on 5 July with the Austrian Grand Prix, and there will be back-to-back British Grands Prix in August as part of the new-look campaign, which has been heavily delayed since a member of the McLaren team tested positive for Covid-19 in March.
But Anthony Hamilton told ITV this week that F1 and sport in general should not yet be resuming, with the coronavirus pandemic still affecting the world at large.
“We should have the patience and respect to say: ‘Let’s wait until the number of new coronavirus cases is down to zero,’ so the key workers can go home, relax and they too can enjoy watching sport,” Hamilton said.
“I understand that we have to get back to business as soon as possible, but it should be as safe as possible and essential business only. Motorsport is a global sport with a global fanbase. Now is not the time to be turning our backs on those who cannot take part, or come and watch. Now is the time for us to wait, be patient and support.
“If we don’t have fans, we don’t have a sport and right now our fans are fighting on the frontline, saving the lives of our fans.
“Although with each day things are improving and the number of virus-related deaths is falling, the enemy is not yet defeated. This is still a very clear and ever-present threat to our lives and society, so what is this rush back to motorsport?”
Lewis Hamilton is on course for a record-equalling seventh F1 title, but his father admitted he would struggle celebrate such an achievement by his son, given the circumstances.
“It would make me feel extremely disingenuous to celebrate watching Lewis racing, or celebrating on the podium,” he said. “I wouldn’t particularly want to be watching the TV and cheering while thousands of people are dying from a virus.”
As part of F1’s return, spectators will not be allowed to attend the races, while a number of measures will be in place to protect team personnel and other staff.
Staff will be transported to and from races on chartered flights, and will be tested for Covid-19 regularly over the course of a race weekend. However, Hamilton still doesn’t feel totally comfortable with the sport returning, warning of potentially “dire consequences”.
“One day it may be us who need saving,” he said. “What would we think then about a rush back to sport?”
Hamilton’s younger son Nic has cerebral palsy and became the first disabled driver to compete in the British Touring Car Championship in 2015. That competition is set to get underway in August.