Lewis Hamilton has once again used his social media presence to advocate global peace and wellbeing – today, the reigning Formula 1 champion used his Instagram platform to call for an end to conflict in the Middle East, primarily Syria.
On his Instagram story, Hamilton wrote:
“Everyday I wake up and see the news on Syria. It’s been going on for nearly 9 years, why has the world stood by and let them [the Syrian people] suffer. These poor children and people suffering everyday because of selfish men, countries not doing anything to help them. This is so sad. Praying for the people out there “
The outpouring comes in the wake of news of Israeli airstrikes on Jihadi sites in Gaza and Syria which have purportedly killed six individuals.
As recognised by Hamilton, the Syrian conflict has been bubbling since March 2011 as a result of a multi-sided civil war in which both domestic and foreign forces combat the Syrian government.
Exact figures of those killed are unknown but estimated at 380,000 to 585,000. What initially started as a peaceful protest against the government’s methods has resulted in an estimated 12-million Syrians displaced from their homes in this refugee crisis.
Hamilton’s claims that ”no countries are doing anything to help” could be construed as misleading given 6.7-million people have found refuge in neighbouring states – 83% of them having fled to find sanctuary of sorts in countries bordering Syria.
The UN has previously declared that combatants on all sides of the conflict were causing severe violations of human rights, including massacres which are reportedly the root cause of the current refugee crisis. Despite UN-led Geneva peace talks in 2017, conflict still brews to this day and shows little sign of letting up.
It’s this human rights issue that Hamilton is highlighting to his 14-million Instagram followers. The six-times F1 World Champion has previously used his position of influence to display support for activism surrounding issues including global warming, animal cruelty and the benefits of veganism.
A fresh breeze of change has wafted through Grand Prix 247 during the off-season and, as a result, we are in for a great 2020 Formula 1 World Championship season with our readers foremost in mind, I have some cool developments to share with you.
First and foremost, I am proud to announce our partnership with Paddock Legends, a premier merchandise producer, supplier and distributor with presence trackside at Grand Prix weekends, select events supported by two retail stores – one at the home of Michael Schumacher’s permanent exhibition at Motorworld in Cologne and another at the Nurburgring circuit.
With our partner, the intent is to create a strong online presence for Paddock Legends that goes beyond a store but is rather an experience where our historical content will find a home to add value for visitors to the online portal.
Paddock Legends partners include the greatest Legends of motorsport, thus to be mandated to recall the exploits of the likes of Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher, James Hunt, Kimi Raikkonen, Mika Hakkinen – and the numerous others that have thrilled us over the decades – is a proper privilege for our team.
Our team for 2020 and beyond is: Ben Stevens who will be Grand Prix 247 Editor with motorsport veteran all-rounder Michele Lupini in the role of Paddock Legends Editor and Sam Tomlinson onboard as our Social Media Guru and writer, with me in the background barking orders and doing the stuff I do. Collectively we will service both sites.
Expect more Inside Lines, Outside Lines, The Undercuts, Red Mists, Off-Cambers, Tech Insights and some new ones as the season evolves.
We will have a presence at select Grand Prix weekends with Ben doing Melbourne for us and a few more surprises in store as our action plan unfolds in forthcoming months.
Also great to confirm that #MsportXtra has added Paddock Legends as a partner to Duurt’s respected and wide-reaching network. He has agreed to activate some cool competitions which we will promote collectively.
Andrew Maitland will continue to supply us with his unique perspective of the sport, and there are plans to rope-in more maverick F1 commentators to the fold, for both sites under our watch.
So you can call this growth, but more than that it is the reward of ten years graft and loyalty from all of you who read these words. You folks fueled the inspiration to relentlessly pound out this site when many times pulling the plug would have been the sane thing to do.
Insanity prevailed, Ben coming on board three years ago with no compensation was a huge motivator and it is fair to say we step up to the next level, and sincerely hope that a year down the line you will look back and credit this site and our team for helping make 2020 a memorable F1 season. That’s the goal.
I would like to quote MBA-Sport and Paddock Legends CEO Markus Schell: “Our goal is to remember, honour and pay tribute to the Legends of our sport. The drivers whose legacies make Formula 1 what it is today. The history that spawns the future.
“As time marches on we cannot forget them, thus through the Paddock Legends project, we will recall the great stories and blow the dust off the great motorsport Legacies through our online presence. This is a journey of responsibility.”
For me, it was very easy to buy into that ethos! So our readers who support them will be supporting us as we enter our own new era.
In closing, and also on a positive note our stats on Grand Prix 247 show we are growing at a regular 20% to 25% per year since this ‘thing-of-ours’ began over a decade ago.
Daniel Ricciardo deserves better than languishing in the midfield, says his former Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen.
Verstappen, who won three races in 2019 — his first since Ricciardo left for Renault — was asked by The Age if the sport would be better with the Australian still in contention for victories.
“It doesn’t really matter if the sport would be in a better place, but Daniel would be in a better place if he was fighting at the front,” he said.
“Daniel is smiling a lot and he’s a very happy guy, but I think he would be smiling even more if he was winning races and being on the podium. I know Daniel and I know Daniel is very fast, so I can imagine last year was not the easiest for him.”
In his first year with the French constructor, Ricciardo finished ninth in the driver’s championship with 54 points, his best finish a fourth at Monza. It was his first year without a podium since his final season at Toro Rosso in 2013.
Now on the eve of the 2020 season, Ricciardo will have to content himself with another rebuilding year, while Verstappen has championship aspirations. Nevertheless, the Dutchman feels for his former teammate, who he believes is among the best drivers the sport has to offer.
“It’s very hard to compare against someone like Lewis [Hamilton], because there is no real comparison. But Daniel was faster than Seb [Sebastian Vettel] in the year they raced together [at Red Bull in 2014], and I’ve raced alongside him long enough to know that he’s a very fast guy.”
“When I first joined Red Bull I was very inexperienced and throughout the years I became stronger and more connected in the team, but he was a nice teammate because we were pushing each other very hard,” he said.
“That was very good for the team because we were trying to fight each other to find that final tenth [of a second], and the whole team lifted because of that.
“He was nice to work with, and I loved that time.”
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc must step-up to the plate and challenge Lewis Hamilton for the 2020 Formula 1 driver’s championship, according to former champion Jenson Button.
Button, who won the 2009 championship with Brawn, believes the 22-year-old Leclerc must aim higher in his second year with the Scuderia than just beating teammate Sebastian Vettel.
“Charles has gone through that honeymoon period at Ferrari and now it is about knuckling down and this year has got to be the year he fights for the championship,’ Button told the Daily Mail.
Leclerc, who took seven poles and two victories while outscoring Vettel 264 points to 240, was the breakout star of 2019, going from from the Scuderia’s number two driver to equal status by season’s end.
However, 2020 has seen Ferrari endure a rocky start, with the new SF1000 struggling to match the front-runners in the first week of testing. Nevertheless, Button is remaining optimistic.
“I really think they will pull it together and take it to Mercedes,” he said.
Equally, the former teammate of Hamilton’s at McLaren is hopeful that the pair’s squabbling that culminated in their incident at the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix will be a thing of the past, with both understanding the new intra-team dynamic.
‘There were some races where Charles was making quite a few mistakes at the start of the year. He had massive speed but even he said, “oh sorry guys, that was my fault”. It’s like, maybe back off saying it is your fault every time.
“Sebastian, I think, found it a little tricky having a younger team-mate who was so quick. I think the dynamic was just wrong within the team.
“I think now they have a much better understanding of each other and I really feel they are going to be a strong team in 2020.
“As soon as they realise they have to be fighting Lewis, rather than each other, they will have a great chance of being at the front of the fight, and fighting for the championship.”
At the same time, Button sympathises with Vettel for losing his top-dog status, but suggests he has no choice but to adapt.
“When you are beaten by a young kid in your team it hurts, a lot. How many hours he has put into working with Ferrari, four world championships with Red Bull, that really does hurt.
“I think he will be a much more confident driver and will make less mistakes in 2020. If he doesn’t… he probably won’t be at Ferrari in 2021.”