Hamilton: 2020 title would be extra special against backdrop of social change

Lewis Hamilton said winning another Formula One title against the backdrop of 2020's Black Lives Matter protests would make it his most special championship victory yet.

Hamilton stands on the verge of history, as another championship would bring him level with Michael Schumacher's all-time record of seven. But in the context of a year which has included the Covid-19 pandemic, which delayed the start of the F1 season by three months, and the protests which followed the death of George Floyd in April, Hamilton believes it has taken on deeper meaning.

"Winning the title this year would mean more than ever before being that it is such a momentous year in the sense that this pandemic, which we are still fighting," he said.

"But then on a more personal level and the Black Lives Matter and fighting for injustice and equality that, being in that time to be also fighting for something so important. It is not going to change in our time, our generation but for our kids, it is such an important moment for us, so yes, winning the world title during this time would be even more important."

Hamilton was speaking at the Red Bull Ring, the host of the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday, at a social-distanced press conference. It is still unclear whether there will be a Black Lives Matter tribute ahead of the race.

Asked whether he and his fellow drivers will take a knee, Hamilton said: "We haven't all spoken yet, I'm sure during this weekend we will.

"It's not something that's been on the top of my mind, I've been asked that question multiple times, and it's not really been a priority of mine to come here and kneel. We'll see Sunday. Whatever we do, we'll try and do it united... it's important we remain united, or become united, in this sport. We really do have to fight to end the injustices and the inequality."

Hamilton said it is crucial any statement is not just a one-off gesture.

"Whether it's sustainable -- it has to be. This is the whole point. It's not enough to take a moment to just post blackout Tuesday or whatever it may be, and then go back to regular lives. It has to continue.

"Black people don't have the privilege of being able to take a moment out. It's something we have to stay on top of, the industry has to stay on top of, we all have to come together. Each of us, our voices are powerful, and if we bring them together collectively, so I do think it's sustainable if we all stay on it."

Hamilton's Mercedes team has already changed to a predominantly black car livery to signify its commitment to tackling the lack of diversity in its race team, which it is reviewing. Hamilton has also commissioned a report into the lack of diversity in motor racing, while F1 has also launched a programme aimed at bringing more people from ethnic minority backgrounds into the championship.