Lewis Hamilton backs NFL players' choice to make political stand against Donald Trump

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Three-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton has offered his support to athletes using sport to make a political stand.

United States president Donald Trump last week suggested NFL players should be sacked by their clubs if they knelt in protest during the American anthem.

Players from up and down the league have been kneeling during pre-match renditions of the Star-Spangled Banner – while the entire Pittsburgh Steelers team remained in the locker room when it was played ahead of their recent game with the Chicago Bears.

Trump recently called on team owners to fire any player involved in demonstrations and said fans should leave any stadiums where protests were witnessed.

Hamilton, Formula One’s only black driver, backed the players and said he understands where the protesters are coming from.

“I think there are opportunities all over,” he said when asked about sportsmen standing up for their rights.

“I think it is open for anyone to have freedom of speech and I guess we can all play a role in trying to make a difference in the world – particularly if your leader is not helping in that area.

“It takes for the people to try standing together and I really feel I can identify with a lot of those individuals.”

Speaking ahead of this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix, Hamilton said he had no issue airing his personal views in public.

“Not at all, I don’t feel like I need to either,” he replied when asked if he had talked to his Mercedes team about his perspective.

“I genuinely have always had support from all of my team, I have never had any complaints from them and I don’t anticipate there to be moving forward.”

Hamilton was also questioned over recent comments that he has considered retiring from the sport.

The Briton, who is 28 points clear of nearest rival Sebastian Vettel heading into the race in Sepang, explained his thinking and ruled out staying in motorsport or taking up life as a politician in the future – despite his opinion on those defending their views.

“It is just evaluating where you are in life and I was just being very open about things I have contemplated,” he said.

“Of course, I still contemplate about decisions over my future, the longer I delay my departure from the sport, the longer my next life is delayed. It is just trying to weigh-up the balances but at the moment I am here to stay.

“I hate politics. I don’t have the greatest understanding of it and I absolutely hate politics.

“I can’t see that I will (stay in motorsport). There is no other racing series that I have any desire to drive in, it is a shame, I wish I did have more passion in me to do IndyCar or Le Mans but there isn’t, there is zero, nothing.”

Hamilton’s engine failure here last season remains his only retirement across the last 30 races.

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Malaysian GP: Sebastian Vettel vows not to change despite Singapore crash

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A defiant Sebastian Vettel vowed Thursday not to change the way he drives despite his first-lap exit in Singapore as he prepares for Sunday’s last-ever Malaysian Grand Prix.

Vettel’s Ferrari started from pole but was involved in a crash at the start that also took out team-mate Kimi Raikkonen and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on a rain-soaked Marina Bay Circuit.

It allowed Lewis Hamilton, who avoided the carnage to win from fifth on the grid, to extend his championship lead from a slender three points to 28.

“I’m not too fussed about the amount of points,” Vettel told reporters at the Sepang International Circuit.

“Obviously it’s never good to be behind, we’d like to be in front, but we’re not, so we’ve got to take it from there.

“Overall it doesn’t change anything for how we tackle the last six races.”

Vettel was exonerated of blame for the Singapore crash by stewards, but many observers felt the German four-time world champion was at fault as he had forced Verstappen towards Raikkonen.

But Vettel said that he hadn’t given the crash much thought since because it was just “part of racing”.

“I think it would have been more difficult if I had lost the car somewhere in the race, then it’s obviously different,” he said.

“The lights went off, we did our start. Everyone was trying to do his start and with the way it happened it ended up really bad for all of us. There’s not much you can do. I think it’s part of racing.

Vettel's crash in Singapore has left him playing catch-up in the title race.

Vettel’s crash in Singapore has left him playing catch-up in the title race.

“It certainly didn’t help Lewis scored a lot of points but that’s the way it goes. What’s done is done.

“It’s not the first time I’m in the situation like this and probably will not be the last time — not that I’m hoping for it to happen again.”

Raikkonen said there was no point in dwelling on what happened and that Ferrari could still take plenty of positives from Singapore.

“In Singapore Sebastian was first and I was fourth in qualifying so if you compare it with Mercedes we were better,” Raikkonen said. “Then we basically didn’t race.”

KIMI WON’T MISS MALAYSIA

Hamilton qualified only fifth and team-mate Valtteri Bottas sixth on the grid in Singapore.

Verstappen, who was sandwiched between the two Ferraris, was reluctant to talk about the crash.

“It happened. You can’t change it. We try again,” said Verstappen.

Sunday will see the final running of the Sepang race after the Malaysian government announced it would not continue to fund the $67 million annual cost of staging the grand prix.

Raikkonen recorded his first victory at the circuit in 2003 but in typically unsentimental fashion said he wasn’t upset to see the race disappear from the calendar.

“To be honest I don’t know if we’re going to miss it,” the Finn told reporters.

“It’s a nice circuit,” he continued, “but the only thing you see is the airport, the hotel next to the airport and the circuit. You can choose from that what you’re going to miss, or not.”​

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Mumford & Sons, Calvin Harris and Pink confirmed, here are other acts to have played at Abu Dhabi GP

Sport360 staff 26/09/2017

This year's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will see Mumford & Sons join Pink and Calvin Harris, making it a weekend of top action on and off of the track.

The Grand Prix, which is Formula One's showpiece event, has had no shortage of famous faces from the music world perform in the past.

From Jay-Z to Sir Paul McCartney to Eminem - Rihanna is the latest in a long list of big names to sing in the UAE capital.

Here, Sport360 takes a look at the previous acts to have lit up the stage at the Yas Marina Circuit.

ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX 2016

Performers: Chemical Brothers, Lionel Richie and Rihanna Line-Up Rating: 8/10 - Largely down to Rihanna's slick and engaging performance to close the Formula One weekend in fashion. Judging by the performances of Lionel Ritchie, Chemical Brothers and Rihanna, the event promoters have set the bar high for the 2017 edition of Yasalam.

ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX 2015

Performers: Enrique Iglesias, Blur, Florence and the Machine Line-up Rating: 7/10 - Had he not been riding the wave of a big comeback hit, Enrique would have seemed a left-field choice, while Blur appealed to nostalgic 1990s Britpop lovers and Florence and the Machine cranked up the volume.

ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX 2014

Performers: The Who, Pharrell Williams, Armin Van Buuren Line-up Rating: 8/10 - A mix of old and the new, with The Who rolling back the years to their 1970s heyday while superstar Pharrell oozed class as the main showpiece act.

ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX 2013

Performers: Jay-Z, Muse, Depeche Mode Line-up Rating: 9/10 - Muse's big-stage appeal made them the perfect act to line-up in the UAE capital and rapper Jay-Z ensured it was a memorable weekend.

ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX 2012

Performers: Eminem, Kylie Minogue, Nickelback Line-up Rating: 8/10 - Past his peak, fans were more interested in Eminem's classics than his modern material but it was good to see the cult rapper on stage. Kylie and Nickelback were also crowd-pleasers, performing their repertoire of hits.

ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX 2011

Performers: Britney Spears, Sir Paul McCartney Line-up Rating: 8/10 - The Beatles legend is always a huge draw and seemed to enjoy his time on stage in Abu Dhabi, while Britney Spears entertained a jam-packed crowd on the second night.

ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX 2010

Performers: Prince, Linkin Park, Kanye West Line-up Rating: 9/10 - The late, great Prince rolled back the years with a vintage display and American rockers Linkin Park literally lifted the roof. But Kanye West proved the most spectacular.

ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX 2009

Performers: Aerosmith, Beyonce Line-up Rating: 9/10 - Cult rock band Aerosmith's big hits went down well, however Beyonce stole the limelight with a flawless display.

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