Lewis Hamilton paid an emotional tribute to Chadwick Boseman after claiming pole position at the Belgian Grand Prix on Saturday, the world champion saying “this one’s for him”.
Boseman, who died on Friday of cancer aged 43, played the role of T’Challa, the leader of Wakanda, in the ‘Black Panther’ movie, which was the first Marvel film to have a black character as a superhero.
“That was really weighing heavy on me today,” said Hamilton.
“I was so driven to deliver a good performance today so that I could dedicate it to Chad.
“I remember when I was a kid that Superman was a superhero, he didn’t look like me, but I still thought Superman was the greatest.
“When Chad became the King, it was really, when he became a superhero in Wakanda it was such a special day for so many people as I know kids like myself will be able to now look up to him and it is possible to do what he did, so this one’s dedicated to him.”
Hamilton explained that he met Boseman during New York fashion week when “we were at the same dinner”.
“I saw him a couple of times throughout the rest of the night and we actually kind of partied away together, on the same table basically. And it was an incredible scenario. I remember talking to him.
“I remember when ‘Black Panther’ came out, I’m a huge, huge Marvel fan, so just knowing how Hollywood has been for a long, long time and to see the first black superhero come out… man everyone was just so proud.
“To see someone make it like him, and be such a powerful figure within the Avengers world, it was incredible, such an honour, and inspiring. His legacy will always live on.”
On his majestic sweep to pole position on Saturday, Hamilton said he rejected the chance for slipstreaming and chose to race alone because he wanted a clear run to his 93rd pole.
The championship leader and six-time world champion took pole by more than half a second clear of his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas.
His flawless lap came without him ‘taking a tow’ from Bottas while other teams worked in pairs to gain an advantage.
“From weekend to weekend, Valtteri and I have a choice,” said Hamilton.
“One weekend it’s his choice to go first or second and others it’s mine – and this weekend it was my choice.
“I decided to go first and I just wanted to be out in the clear and not have to back up behind people in the last corner. I just wanted clean air in front of me – and I think it worked.
He added that his efforts resulted in “one of the cleanest qualifying sessions I think I’ve ever had. Every lap was bang on the dot and no mistakes, no real issues.
He said it was a “phenomenal feeling driving round this track because it’s incredible how fast it’s become.”