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Hamilton questions FIA's choice of Petrov as a steward

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Six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton has questioned the FIA's decision to employ Vitaly Petrov as a steward at this weekend's Portuguese Grand Prix after the Russian recently made controversial remarks about Hamilton's anti-racism stance.

Following the Tuscan Grand Prix, at which Hamilton wore a T-shirt saying "arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor", Petrov claimed the world champion's choice of shirt was "too much" and likened it to "urging everyone to be gay" if a driver came out as homosexual.

Taylor, a Black woman, was fatally shot March 13 when police officers burst into her Louisville, Kentucky, apartment using a no-knock warrant during a narcotics investigation. She was 26.

Hamilton's shirt at the Tuscan Grand Prix read: "arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor" on the front and "say her name" alongside her picture on the back. He wore it at F1's pre-race anti-racism demonstration and again on the podium after winning the race.

Speaking ahead of the following round of the championship in Petrov's native Russia, the former Lotus and Caterham F1 driver was quoted as saying: "In Russia we have a different mentality, and we do not have the problems that Hamilton is talking about. There should be respect for everyone."

He added: "For me, this t-shirt, on top of calling for everyone to kneel, was too much.

"It is a personal matter for every adult. You have the right to speak out on social media or give interviews, but I think the US government is well aware of these problems already.

"But to call on that in Formula One itself... I think half of the spectators didn't even know what the shirt was about until it was explained to them.

"And let's say a driver admits to being gay -- will they come out with a rainbow flag and urge everyone to become gay as well? I think the FIA will no longer allow such behaviours."

When Petrov's comments were relayed to Hamilton during a press conference on Thursday in Portugal, the world champion questioned why the FIA had chosen Petrov as a steward over other former drivers who would also be suitable for the role.

"I mean, I've not seen all of the quotes, but obviously you've just recited some of them so yes of course I would say that's a surprise that they would be hiring someone that has those beliefs and is so vocal about things that we're trying to fight against," Hamilton said. "So you should take it up with them [the FIA] really, there's nothing that I can particularly do about it.

"But we should definitely be including people here who are with the times, who are understanding of the times that we are living in and sensitive to the matters that are surrounding us.

"So I don't really understand what their goal is or why particularly he's here because it's not like they don't have any other good options."

Petrov, who competed in 58 grands prix during his F1 career, is one of four stewards who will officiate at this weekend's Portuguese Grand Prix.