SEPANG, Malaysia (AP) Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton has been advised to use social media tactfully after posting a mock up aimed at U.S. President Donald Trump during the Malaysian Grand Prix.
Hamilton, the series leader chasing a fourth world championship, posted it on his Instagram account on Friday. It featured a Trump doll and a dog and was removed soon after.
“Lewis is very authentic and he expresses what he thinks. I have sympathy for being authentic and saying what your opinion is,” Mercedes head of motorsport Toto Wolff said on Saturday in the team motorhome. “In hindsight, with a million following on Instagram, on a race weekend, (it) is a different story. We discussed it (and) Lewis was of the opinion that it wasn’t the right moment.”
Trump has vehemently condemned players who have knelt in protest during the U.S. national anthem at sports events, saying they should stand or be fired for their defiance.
“This is a very controversial and polarizing story. Lewis’ feelings about human rights are very strong and I think he wanted to show that,” Wolff said. “Probably Instagram as the communication channel is something that he needs to rethink. But I can relate to his feelings.”
Hamilton, a prolific user of Twitter and Instagram, posted twice more on Instagram this week, lending his support to protesters of racial injustive and police brutality.
One post was of Martin Luther King kneeling on a pavement, and the other was of former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick who started the movement last year.
In brief comments on Thursday, Hamilton gave his unequivocal support to the protesters, alluding to Trump without directly naming him.
“We can all play a role in trying to make a difference in the world. Particularly if your leader is not helping in that area. There are opportunities all over,” Hamilton said. “It is open for anyone to have freedom of speech. It takes the people to try standing together, and I really feel I can identify with a lot of those individuals.”