Lewis Hamilton vows to change F1 as he launches diversity commission

Lewis Hamilton vows to make F1 as ‘diverse as the multicultural world we live in’ because he remains the only ‘driver of colour’ since started 14 years ago – as he launches commission to help more black people into sport

  • Six-time world champion launched the scheme to boost BAME representation 
  • The 35-year-old Mercedes star remains Formula One’s sole black driver
  • MP Tracey Crouch today named among 14-strong Hamilton Commission board

Lewis Hamilton has pledged to ‘make a change’ and get to the bottom of motorsport’s diversity problems as he names the members of his new commission today. 

The six-time world champion launched the Hamilton Commission in June in a bid to boost BAME representation across the sport.

The 35-year-old remains Formula One’s sole black driver and so partnered with the Royal Academy of Engineering earlier this summer to try and make the sport ‘become as diverse as the complex and multicultural world we live in’.

The Mercedes star has been vocal in his support for the anti-racism campaign and has been wearing a ‘Black Lives Matter’ t-shirt on the grid all season to date.

The six-time world champion recently escaped punishment for carrying the slogan: ‘Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor,’ in reference to the black woman who was killed by police in Kentucky in March, after winning the Tuscany Grand Prix earlier this month.

Lewis Hamilton, pictured taking a knee and wearing a t-shirt with the message ‘arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor’, has pledged to ‘make a change’ and get to the bottom of motorsport’s diversity problems as he names the members of his new commission today

The driver raises a fist as he stands on the podium in a stand against racism at the Austrian Grand Prix in July

The six-time world champion, pictured taking a knee and wearing a ‘Black Lives Matter’ t-shirt in July, launched the Hamilton Commission the previous month in a bid to boost BAME representation across the sport

Karen Chouhan – a Lead Equality Officer with a specialism in race policy for the National Education Union

Jeremy Crook – Chief Executive of the Black Training and Enterprise Group

Tracey Crouch – MP and former sports minister

Dr Nike Folayan – Co-Founder and Chair of the Association for Black and Minority Ethnic Engineers 

Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon – Co-Founder of Stemettes and Trustee at the Institute for the Future of Work

George Imafidon – Co-Founder of Motivez, One Young World Ambassador and Royal Academy of Engineering Scholar

Professor Alice P. Gast – President of Imperial College London 

Mark Hamlin – Chair of Project 44

Dr Zubaida Haque – Former Interim Director of the Runnymede Trust

Glen Lambert – Head of School of Construction, Science and Engineering, at College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London

Professor David Mba – Pro-Vice Chancellor Research and Enterprise, Dean of the Faculty of Computing, Engineering and Media at De Montfort University 

Izzy Obeng – Managing Director at Foundervine and Non-Executive Director for Capital Enterprise 

Chi Onwurah – MP and Shadow Minister Digital, Science & Technology

Martin Whitmarsh – Former CEO of the McLaren Formula One Team 

The commission’s 14-strong board was announced today and includes MP Tracey Crouch, who once served as sports minister, and Hamilton’s former McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh.

Other members include leaders from a number of influential charities and organisations, many of which have been flying the flag for racial equality. 

The group, which vows to deliver recommendations that will benefit young black people wishing to work in motorsport, will meet quarterly.

Hamilton said: ‘Since I began my professional racing career in Formula One, 14 years ago, I was the first driver of colour and to this day, sadly that is still the case.

‘However, what is more concerning is that there are still very few people of colour across the sport as a whole.

‘In F1, our teams are much bigger than the athletes that front them, but representation is insufficient across every skill set – from the garage to the engineers in the factories and design departments.

‘Change isn’t coming quickly enough, and we need to know why.

‘This is why I wanted to set up the commission and I’m proud to be working with the Royal Academy of Engineering and our incredible board of commissioners to identify the barriers facing young black people to take up STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) careers in motorsport. 

‘We are dedicated to this cause and together, we will make a change.’

Hamilton, who on Wednesday was named in Time magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people this year, believes winning a record-equalling seventh world championship against the backdrop of his fight against racism will rank as his greatest achievement.

Hamilton’s Mercedes team are running an all-black livery to highlight his battle. 

The world champions have also pledged to improve diversity within their own corridors.

The team, which is based in Northamptonshire, revealed ahead of the new season, that just three per cent of its workforce comes from a minority ethnic group, while only 12 per cent are female.

The commission’s 14-strong board was announced today and includes MP Tracey Crouch, who once served as sports minister

Hamilton was this week criticised by his former F1 rival Vitaly Petrov for being ‘overzealous’ in his approach to support the Black Lives Matter movement. 

The FIA are keen to work with Hamilton but want to protect their status as a strictly non-political organisation. 

Former Renault driver Petrov has since said he felt the Brit had taken it ‘too far’ by wearing controversial T-shirts.

‘For me, this t-shirt, on top of calling for everyone to kneel, was too much,’ the Russian told Championat.

‘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 1 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.’

Some F1 drivers have opted not to kneel before each race this season and Petrov said that Russians – including Daniil Kvyat – do not kneel for any reason except ‘before God and to propose to your future wife’.

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