Lewis Hamilton has suggested Formula One could join the National Football League [NFL] and other American sports in their protest against racial discrimination.

Last year then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, became the first player to take a knee during the US national anthem, in a bid to protest against a tide of racial injustice against African-Americans from police.

The issue reared its head again last week, when Trump suggested any player who refuses to stand during the anthem "is a son of a bitch" who should be "fired". However, the words of the US President fell on deaf ears as players, coaches and staff across the country joined the protest, with over 200 players choosing to kneel, sit, pray or raise a clenched fist as the Star-Spangled Banner rang out at games last weekend.

Speaking ahead of the Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday (1 October), Hamilton said there was scope for similar protests across other sports, hinting Formula One could adds its voice to the chorus of discontent.

"I think there are opportunities all over Formula One," he was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail. "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 requires people to stand together. I can identify with a lot of those individuals."

The three-time world champion was off the pace during practice on Friday (29 September), as title rival Sebastian Vettel set the fastest time ahead of teammate Kimi Raikkonen. The Briton, who leads Vettel by 28 points in the world championship standing, was 1.416 seconds behind the German in sixth place, while the two Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen were third and fourth respectively.

Hamilton, who spun off the track at turn seven, admitted it had been a difficult day office for Mercedes, as his teammate Valtteri Bottas finished seventh.

"The car was terrible in the rain," he told Sky Sports. "At the last race the car was really good in the rain, this morning the car was just as bad as it was in the second practice in the dry. It doesn't work in whatever condition at the moment, so we've really got to understand why and make some changes.

"It's a very unusual scenario - I don't remember the last time we had this kind of feeling. The engineers will do a lot of analysis tonight and the guys back at the factory will be working overtime to try and understand it to see if they can rectify it."