Hamilton on Osaka withdrawal: Young athletes need media support

Lewis Hamilton says young athletes need better support dealing with the media, as he discussed tennis player Naomi Osaka’s withdrawal from Roland Garros and his early Formula 1 experiences.

Hamilton on Osaka withdrawal: Young athletes need media support

Osaka withdrew from the French Open after being fined by the tournament’s organisers for refusing to speak to the media following her first round win in the 2021 edition.

She had said ahead of the event starting that she would not “do any press” because she has “often felt that people have no regard for athletes mental health and this rings very true whenever I see a press conference or partake in one”.

On Tuesday, Hamilton reposted Osaka’s statement announcing her French Open exit and stated, “mental health is not a joke, this is real and serious" and "let's all make sure Naomi knows she's not alone".

 

As the situation has put sports stars’ relationships with the media in the modern age into renewed focus, Hamilton was asked in the pre-event press conference for this weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix if he had subsequently considered how the media dynamic in F1 might be altered.

He replied: “I think it’s a really good question. I honestly haven’t put any thought to that because I’ve just come here to do my job.”

The Mercedes driver then explained how he had “learned the hard way” in dealing with the media after making his F1 debut aged 22 in 2007 and “made many a mistake and I still do today”.

He added: “It can be daunting still, standing behind a camera – it’s not the easiest. Particularly if you’re like an introvert and you do struggle to be under those sorts of pressures.

“Some people are less comfortable with it than others.

“I’ve learned over my time here how, or have been continuing and I’m trying to continue to learn of how I engage.

“But, when I was young, I was thrown into the pit and I wasn’t given any guidance or support.

“And what I do know is that when youngsters are coming in, they’re facing the same thing as I did.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes

Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images

“And I don’t necessarily know if that’s the best for them. I think we need to be supporting more and I think it shouldn’t be a case where you’re pressured.

“Like, there are scenarios where – for example, with Naomi’s scenario, she didn’t feel comfortable for her own personal health not to do something.

“And the backlash is ridiculous and people not taking into account that she’s a human being.

“She’s saying ‘I’m not well enough to do this right now’. I think that really needs to be looked into and how people react to that. And rather be supportive and uplifting to her.

“Because I think… I don’t want to say anymore.”

Earlier in the press conference, Hamilton was asked if had any specific advice to offer Osaka on overcoming difficult moments with the media and whether he considered it important for sports stars to consult sports psychologists.

“I don’t think I am the right person to say if it is the right thing to do – to seek help, necessarily,” Hamilton replied.

“I have never really been into sports psychology, but I definitely think it is an interesting topic.

“I wouldn’t say that I have advice for her, I think she is an incredible athlete and human being.

“Her activism has been so impactful and at such a young age, with so much weight on her shoulders, it is inevitable.

“That fact is when you are young you are thrown into the limelight and spotlight and it weighs heavily on you. The thing is most of us are probably not prepared.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes

Photo by: Jerry Andre / Motorsport Images

“I remember when I got to Formula 1 and the team had PR but I was never prepared for being thrown in front of the camera and I was never guided as to what to look out for or what would help to navigate through it.

“You just learn through mistakes and it is incredibly nerve-wracking especially when you have all good intentions and people take advantage of it.

“So, I think she is incredibly brave and I applaud her for her bravery as I think it is now [about] asking those in power and putting them in question and making them have to think about how they react.

“Because the way they reacted was not good – with the fine.

“And someone talking about their personal mental health and then being fined for it isn’t cool.

“They could have definitely handled it better and I hope they take a deep dive into it and find a better way to navigate it in the future.

“As athletes we are pushing ourselves and we are on the edge, and we are only human beings.”

shares
comments

Related video

FIA clamps down on "unnecessarily" slow driving in Baku
Previous article

FIA clamps down on "unnecessarily" slow driving in Baku

Next article

Why F1 shouldn't be too rigid about flexi-wings

Why F1 shouldn't be too rigid about flexi-wings
Load comments
The Schumacher trait that will give Haas hope in F1 2022 Prime

The Schumacher trait that will give Haas hope in F1 2022

Mick Schumacher’s knack of improving during his second season in a championship was a trademark of his junior formula career, so his progress during his rookie Formula 1 campaign with Haas was encouraging. His target now will be to turn that improvement into results as the team hopes to reap the rewards of sacrificing development in 2021

The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push Prime

The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push

As the driver of Formula 1’s medical car, Alan van der Merwe’s job is to wait – and hope his skills aren’t needed. James Newbold hears from F1’s lesser-known stalwart.

Formula 1
Jan 15, 2022
When BMW added F1 'rocket fuel' to ignite Brabham's 1983 title push Prime

When BMW added F1 'rocket fuel' to ignite Brabham's 1983 title push

There was an ace up the sleeve during the 1983 F1 title-winning season of Nelson Piquet and Brabham. It made a frontrunning car invincible for the last three races to see off Renault's Alain Prost and secure the combination's second world title in three years

Formula 1
Jan 13, 2022
How “abysmal” reliability blunted Brabham’s first winner Prime

How “abysmal” reliability blunted Brabham’s first winner

Brabham’s first world championship race-winning car was held back by unreliable Climax engines – or so its creators believed, as STUART CODLING explains

Formula 1
Jan 10, 2022
The steps Norris took to reach a new level in the 2021 F1 season Prime

The steps Norris took to reach a new level in the 2021 F1 season

Lando Norris came of age as a grand prix driver in 2021. McLaren’s young ace is no longer an apprentice or a quietly capable number two – he’s proved himself a potential winner in the top flight and, as Stuart Codling finds out, he’s ready to stake his claim to greatness…

Formula 1
Jan 9, 2022
How Fangio set the bar for Schumacher and Hamilton in F1 Prime

How Fangio set the bar for Schumacher and Hamilton in F1

Juan Manuel Fangio, peerless on track and charming off it, established the gold standard of grand prix greatness. Nigel Roebuck recalls a remarkable champion.

Formula 1
Jan 8, 2022
How Russell sees his place in the Mercedes-Hamilton F1 superteam Prime

How Russell sees his place in the Mercedes-Hamilton F1 superteam

George Russell joining Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes this year gives it arguably the best line-up in Formula 1 – if it can avoid too many fireworks. After serving his apprenticeship at Williams, Russell is the man that Mercedes team believes can lead it in the post-Hamilton era, but how will he fare against the seven-time champion? Motorsport.com heard from the man himself

Formula 1
Jan 6, 2022
How F1 pulled off its second pandemic season and its 2022 implications Prime

How F1 pulled off its second pandemic season and its 2022 implications

OPINION: The Formula 1 season just gone was the second to be completed under the dreaded shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, but in many ways it was much more ‘normal’ than 2020. Here’s the story of how the championship’s various organisers delivered a second challenging campaign, which offers a glimpse at what may be different next time around

Formula 1
Jan 5, 2022