Lewis Hamilton joins Black Lives Matter march in London; creates diversity panel

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Six-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton is setting up a commission to increase diversity in racing and took to the London streets Sunday to support Black Lives Matter.

The Mercedes driver said the aim of hihs Hamilton Commission would be to make the sport “become as diverse as the complex and multicultural world we live in.”

Writing in The Sunday Times, Hamilton said it would be a research partnership dedicated to exploring how motorsport can be used as a vehicle to “engage more young people from Black backgrounds with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects and, ultimately, employ them on our teams or in other engineering sectors.”

“I’ve been fighting the stigma of racism throughout my racing career – from kids throwing things at me while karting, to being taunted by fans in black face at a 2007 grand prix, one of my first Formula One races,” he wrote.

“I’m used to being one of very few people of color on my teams and, more than that, I’m used to the idea that no one will speak up for me when I face racism, because no one personally feels or understands my experience.”

Hamilton, who is the only Black world champion in F1, has spoken widely about racism after saying he was left feeling “so much anger, sadness and disbelief” following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month.

He also posted photos Sunday of marching with protestors in Hyde Park to support Black Lives Matter.

He wrote in the paper that the “institutional barriers that have kept F1 highly exclusive persist,” adding that the thousands of people employed in motorsport need to be more representative of society.

“Winning championships is great, but I want to be remembered for my work creating a more equal society through education”, he added.

Miguel Oliveira wins MotoGP Thai Grand Prix, Bagnaia closes to two points in championship

MotoGP Thai Grand Prix
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Miguel Oliveira mastered mixed conditions on the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand to win the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix. Oliveira showed the adaptability as he navigated a race that began in wet conditions and turned dry over the course of the race. Oliveira won the Indonesian GP in similar conditions.

“It was a long race, but I can’t complain,” Oliveira said on CNBC. “Every time we get to ride in the wet, I’m always super-fast. When it started raining, I had flashbacks of Indonesia. I tried to keep my feet on the ground, make a good start and not make mistakes and carry the bike to the end.”

All eyes were on the championship, however. Francesco Bagnaia got a great start to slot into second in Turn 1.

Meanwhile Fabio Quartararo had a disastrous first lap. He lost five positions in the first couple of turns and then rode over the rumble strips and fell back to 17th. At the end of the first lap, Bagnaia had the points’ lead by two. A win would have added to the gain and for a moment, it appeared Bagnaia might assume the lead.

Early leader Marco Bezzecchi was penalized for exceeding track limits, but before that happened, Jack Miller got around Bagnaia and pushed him back to third. Oliveira was not far behind.

After throwing away ninth-place and seven points on the last lap of the Japanese GP last week, Bagnaia did not allow the competition to press him into a mistake. He fell back as far as fourth before retaking the final position on the podium.

“It’s like a win for me, this podium,” Bagnaia. “My first podium in the wet and then there was a mix of conditions, so I’m very happy. I want to thank Jack Miller. Before the race, he gave me a motivational chat.”

Miller led the first half of the Thai Grand Prix before giving up the top spot to Oliveira and then held on to finish second. Coupled with his Japanese GP win, Miller is now fully in the MotoGP championship battle with a 40-point deficit, but he will need a string of results like Bagnaia has put together in recent weeks – and he needs Bagnaia to lose momentum.

Miller’s home Grand Prix in Australia is next up on the calendar in two weeks.

Bagnaia entered the race 18 points behind Quartararo after he failed to score any in Japan. The balance of power has rapidly shifted, however, with Quartararo now failing to earn points in two of the last three rounds. Bagnaia won four consecutive races and finished second in the five races leading up to Japan. His third-place finish in Thailand is now his sixth MotoGP podium in the last seven rounds.

Aleix Espargaro entered the race third in the standings with a 25-point deficit to Quartararo, but was able to close the gap by only five after getting hit with a long-lap penalty for aggressive riding when he pushed Darryn Binder off course during a pass for position. Espargaro finished 11th.

Rain mixed up the Moto2 running order in the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix as well. Starting on a wet track, Somkiat Chantra led the opening lap in his home Grand Prix. He could not hold onto it and crashed one circuit later, but still gave his countrymen a moment of pride by winning the pole.

Half points were awarded as the race went only eight laps before Tony Arbolino crossed under the checkers first with Filip Salac and Aron Canet rounding out the podium.

American Joe Roberts earned another top-10 in eighth with Sean Dylan Kelly finishing just outside the top 10 in 11th.