Alabama, November 1966. A young black guy was curled up in the street, trying to protect himself from the fire hoses, police dogs and truncheons being used on the marchers. Any violent response would have led immediately to arrest or worse and given ammunition to the racists. An old black man walked by the kid, who was braving out the torment, and said simply, “Don't let ‘em rile ya, boy.”
While Formula 1 may be a world away from the civil rights movement in 1960s America, there are some similarities when it comes to race.
Although Lewis Hamilton – in a PR sense – has sometimes dropped the ball this year he has generally faced off the issue of his mixed race with aplomb, keeping on-message and refusing to rise to the bait (despite regular provocation), knowing that if he did all hell could break lose.
Many well-known people have helped young Lewis on his path to fame and fortune, but few will acknowledge the part Christian Horner played in Hamilton’s success.
When – a few years ago – McLaren’s seasoned supremos outlined a career path for their young protégé, Anthony Hamilton (believing he knew better) disagreed and began touting his son around other racing teams.
Upon Anthony’s arrival at Red Bull, Horner, showing an unselfish streak, calmly advised the competitive dad to go back to McLaren, eat humble pie and do as they wished.
Mr Hamilton, fortunately for his son, did as suggested.
Felipe Massa is an approachable, pleasant, affable and as a result very likeable guy, and after suffering surely the biggest disappointment of his life so far, he reacted in a mature, professional and humble manner.
The intense high and shattering low he experienced in just a few seconds would’ve broken lesser men, but, as he said on Sunday evening, it’s important to know how to both win and lose with dignity.
Formula 1 and sport in general could do with more of Felipe’s admirable spirit.
Please now take a few minutes to enjoy my pictures from the 2008 Brazilian grand prix by clicking on the Formula 1 link at the top of the page.