British Racing Legend & Activist Lewis Hamilton Escapes Death At Italian Grand Prix

Legendary F1 driver Lewis Hamilton survived a potentially deadly wreck this weekend at the Italian Grand Prix. The racing gods protected the all-time Grand Prix wins leader. Fate was on his side, probably due to all the positive social justice work he's done over the past year. (Photo: @lewishamilton/Instagram)

British Formula One star Lewis Hamilton is more than the most accomplished athlete in the history of his sport. He’s also the first Black F1 driver in history.

In addition to hanging out with A-list American celebrities like Odell Beckham Jr., Hamilton has used his platform to inspire diversity in driving and to serve as a mouthpiece for social justice.

Hamilton’s had his share of collisions and close calls throughout his 14-year career, but he’s never come closer to death than he did this weekend while battling title rival Max Verstappen at the Italian Grand Prix. 

The drivers jostled for position on the first corner at Monza after Hamilton had emerged from the pit lane. Red Bull driver Verstappen was forced wide as he collided wheels with Hamilton’s Mercedes.

Verstappen’s wheels skipped off a ramp on the curve, which launched his car over Hamilton’s.

The back wheels came within inches of Hamilton’s head. The legendary driver was ironically saved by a protective “Halo” device that helped him survive a potential decapitation.

Both drivers emerged from the wreck unharmed, but it was risky business for Hamilton, who uses his head and heart to dictate the path he rides on the track and in life.

Elevation of A Living Legend

Nobody is serving it up like Formula One racing legend Lewis Hamilton. He’s had a long, unprecedented run at the top of his sport. He has all of the bases covered, from iconic status to current activism.

Bubba Wallace has done his thing for NASCAR, but despite his popularity, he’s yet to win a race on the circuit.

Lewis Hamilton Will End His Racing Career As The GOAT

 

Hamilton dominated the Spanish Grand Prix in August 2020 — to take his fourth victory in six races up to that point.

It was the 88th victory of Hamilton’s career, and placed him just three wins shy of Michael Schumacher’s all-time record of wins. It was also his 156th podium finish, a new record, beating the previous mark — also held by Schumacher.

Lewis has traveled all around the world, passed Schumacher and won 11 more races since then. He’s already won four in 2021.

Tiger vs. Lewis

This is significant because Lewis is at least Top 5 when mentioning Black athletes who have dominated their respective sport in the past 25 years. He has few competitors who could stake a claim to this title.

It’s a short list with Serena Williams and Tiger Woods also recognized as athletes in leagues of their own and with nothing left to accomplish other than eclipsing the all-time records of the white, golden ghosts of yesterday.

Woods has more official PGA career wins than Jack (82-73), but Nicklaus has 18 majors to Woods’ 15, and despite Tiger’s incredible comeback in recent years, it’s getting more unlikely that he will surpass The Golden Bear.

Woods has also been known to stay quiet on issues of race and policing and he’s stayed true to this approach, even during this transformative time in our country. 

The 36-year-old Hamilton, however, is still in his prime, and the way he is in his bag, it’s only a matter of time before he becomes Formula One racing’s undisputed all-time king. As his platform continues to expand, his message of equality continues to resonate.  

Enduring Racism, Social Injustice

Hamilton is the rarest of aberrations as the first and only Black driver to race in Formula One. Naturally, he’s been subjected to racist abuse by fans and media throughout his incomparable career, which began in 2007.

The George Floyd murder and subsequent protests inspired Lewis and his racing allies to join marches and become vocal leaders in the fight for equality.

Using Platform To Erase Racism

Rocking “Black Lives Matter” on the top of his helmet, “Hamilton restated his determination to ensure the momentum for change would not be lost,” according to theguardian.com 

“It is important to continue to push,” he said. “There are many, many companies here that have not held themselves accountable. And there are a lot of people out there in the world who haven’t.”

 

 Protecting Black Women

“In America, for example,” Lewis said in a 2020 interview, “there are still policemen living a normal life even though they killed an innocent individual. Breonna Taylor [shot dead in her Louisville apartment], there have been so many of them where nobody has been brought to justice and we have to continue to fight for that.”

Despite being the lone Black, British voice in Formula One, Hamilton has never stayed silent in order to fit in with others. His honesty hasn’t always served him well, but it’s not his style to just blend into the background.

He understands the importance of his voice and platform and the challenges facing his brothers and sisters in sports. 

 In 2017, Hamilton showed he had Serena Williams’ back after she was subjected to racist comments by Ilie Nastase

“I’m very much with her in what she said, he said to reporters in Sochi. I thought it was beautiful what she wrote as a powerful, independent black woman. I just think she’s awesome. She’s not only one of the greatest people I know, but she’s just a born leader and so rather than react in a negative way, reading what she’s written just inspires me and hopefully inspires others.”

It was good to see that the two best athletes in sports not traditionally recognized as being destinations for people of color had each other’s backs.

Paid Like A Mogul With the Hunger Of A Winless Rookie

Forbes announced the top moneymakers in sports from the last 10 years back in December 2019. Lewis Hamilton was No. 10 at $400 million, one slot behind NBA star and multi-media maven Kevin Durant at $425 million.

The seven-time Formula One world champ with more money than some countries still strives for career-defining performances.

Hamilton’s got it all covered and Americans will just have to get over the fact that the most dominant athlete in sports today is British. Judging from the way he cheated catastrophe this weekend, Hamilton also has the luck of the Irish. 

JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.