ROMAIN GROSJEAN has apologised to Lewis Hamilton for not getting fully behind F1’s anti-racism message.
Hamilton singled out the Haas driver, who is also a director of the Grands Prix Drivers Association, claiming after the Hungarian GP that “he was one of them that thinks it was done once that that’s all we need to do”.
Grosjean had a 45-minute telephone call with the world champion to clear the air, in which he apologised and also said he was only representing those drivers in the GPDA who had concerns about the anti-racism message.
He said: “It was a really good chat about many things, Formula One in general, but obviously the subject was ‘end racism’.
“I explained to Lewis that maybe I did it wrong, maybe I did it right. I don’t know. It felt right at the time that we [him and Sebastian Vettel] are two directors in the GPDA.
“Seven or eight drivers were not happy to carry on the ceremony, as it was done, in race one in Austria.
“I said to Lewis that I felt that as one of the directors, okay, Sebastian was pushing in the direction of carrying on with ‘end racism’, which is the right approach.}
“I was speaking for the drivers that were not happy to carry on, to express their voice as a director of the GPDA.
“Now thinking about it, it was probably the wrong thing to do, and Lewis put some good arguments, I did, too. But I think it was the wrong thing to do.
“It was a good chat with Lewis. I said sorry, that maybe I did it the wrong way but I felt I had to do what I had to do at the time because at the GPDA we work on a majority vote system.
“I felt that as one of the directors listening to the guys not happy to carry on, then I wasn’t doing my duty.”
Grosjean also says he was subjected to abuse on social media after Hamilton – who last month labelled Bernie Ecclestone as “ignorant and uneducated” – named him.
The Frenchman said: “I wasn’t very happy that on my social media I had a lot of things about racism, that I’m racist or whatever, which is absolutely wrong.
“I don’t think you will find anyone in the world [who would say] that I did something wrong in that aspect.
‘So I wasn’t very happy about being treated like that. I was one of the first to push through and support that we take a knee.
“I’m still really hopeful that one day we will get 20 drivers to take the knee on the grid, that it will happen at one point.”
Meanwhile, the GPDA, F1 CEO Chase Carey and FIA president Jean Todt have now spoken to put a plan in place for their ‘end racism’ and ‘we race as one’ messages.
Grosjean added: “It’s hard for us as drivers to organise things over an event because we’ve many things to look at.
“So we wanted more guidance from Liberty [F1’s owners], a clear procedure as we had for Austria and I think that’s going to happen.”