(Motorsport) Lewis Hamilton has admitted to feeling a “lone ranger” in Formula 1 but feels that significant progress has been made to promote inclusivity. The seven time World Champion has said that changes behind the scenes have only been happening in the last few years,describing previous attempts as a “difficult, narrow and very lonely path to walk” but claims the sport has become more open minded and empathetic since 2021. In 2019, the Mercedes driver started the Hamilton Commission to take action and address diversity in motorsport.
In an interview, Hamilton said “When we (Hamilton and his father) got to F1, we thought we had broken the mould and thought that would change things. But that wasn’t enough and that is why I started the Hamilton Commission because I knew no one else cared to do the work. It’s not about just having access for young minorities getting access in engineering, but across the board. The higher up you go the less diverse it is, not only in our industry but through many industries.
“The goal is to shift that, and that is part of my mission. For a long time I was winning races and thinking something was missing. I feel great that I am living my purpose and starting to see that change. There wasn’t any change until 2021 really, or at least the last couple of years where you are starting to see some change.
“Before that I was a lone ranger and could talk on the subject as it would just be you’re the only black man. It was a difficult, narrow and very lonely path to walk. I feel that I am a representative for all those who feel they don’t have a voice. There are many people who feel they don’t have a voice and look at the sport and feel it isn’t for them. I wouldn’t say I am representing them as such, but I hope if I am, I am doing it in a positive way.”
While Hamilton remains the only black driver on the grid, he believes that representation isn’t just limited to the grid but across Formula 1 and is aiming to make it possible with initiatives such as Mission44, a non profit organisation to create a more inclusive society. “It’s not about finding the next black racing driver because it’s always going to be an expensive sport and there is nothing I can do to change that,” he said. “It’s about a thousand other jobs in the background. It should be open to anybody, no matter what your race, or what your sex. In 10 years’ time, we are going to see a much different sport because I’ll make sure of it.
“I think ultimately, unless I am part of the initiative or Michael Jordan comes in, or some other big shot becomes part of the ownership, I think it will most likely stay with the owners. The owners that we have, I have had deep conversations with them about the work we can do together. Young black kids are now seeing there is a place for them. Hopefully they are now seeing representation on TV.”