British racing driver Lewis Hamilton paid an emotional tribute on Saturday to the late American actor Chadwich Boseman who passed away earlier in the day at the age of 43 after a four-year fight with colon cancer. The Formula One champion said that he would dedicate his 2020 Belgian Grand Prix pole to the late Black Panther star.
Hamilton, who is competing in Formula One for the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team, claimed pole position for the Belgian GP, breaking a track record at the Spa-Francorchamps motor-racing circuit and finishing a half second clear of his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas.
The six-time F1 champion said during a radio interview regarding his Belgium pole, that he “was heartbroken” by Boseman's death.
“It's a really important pole for me,” Hamilton told fellow racing driver Paul Di Resta. “I woke up to the news of Chadwick Boseman passing away and that news really, really broke me.”
Hamilton added that it would be hard for him to “get back to focus” ahead of Sunday’s race following the news.
“It was really not easy to get back in focus coming in today with that kind of hanging on my heart, but I was like I've got to go out there and drive to perfection because what he's done for our people and what he's done for this superhero shows all the young kids that it's possible. He was such a shining light. So, 'Wakanda Forever',” the British driver stated, posting a photo showing him performing the Wakanda salute that Boseman made famous as the title character in the Black Panther movie,.
I want to dedicate this pole to Chadwick. What he accomplished and the legacy he left is so incredible to me. He’s inspired a whole generation of young black men and women and provided them with a true superhero to look up to. Rest in power my friend.#WakandaForever #blackpanther pic.twitter.com/M7EgGess9p— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) August 29, 2020
Hamilton, the only black driver in Formula One, said that he will do his best to “be perfect” and “demonstrate strength", “because today's a special day to be able to dedicate that to Chadwick. I feel very honoured to do that”.
“When he died, I was heartbroken. What I do remember is there was no action hero the same colour as me, and in a lot of scenarios around the world there is under-representation. Young kids, if they can't see it, they think it's not possible,” Hamilton said. “What he did with Black Panther, it really moved a generation, not only the younger generation but also the older generation. It signified such an incredibly important shift in the film industry, and these young kids can now see it is possible to have a black superhero out there”.
The famed driver added that, regardless of the short time that Boseman lived, of whom he is “so proud”, the stage professional left “great” achievements as a Black actor, including films “'Jackie Robinson' and 'James Brown'”.
“But that's not the only great one he's done! Jackie Robinson and James Brown; he did so much in such a small time at such a young age, and he also did it while he was fighting cancer. That shows the strength he had,” the UK-based sportsman said. “In such an important time in history today, when we're still fighting police brutality and inequality, he was one of those shining stars that signified power and strength, so it's been an emotional day”.
Hamilton had previously claimed five poles at the Belgium GP. Saturday’s achievement was his sixth.