Lewis Hamilton is launching the ‘Hamilton Commission,’ a research partnership with the Royal Academy of Engineering, to drive diversity and help get more young men and women from black backgrounds engaged in motorsport.
The Hamilton Commission is a “research partnership, dedicated to exploring how motorsport can be used as a vehicle to engage more young people from black backgrounds with science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or Stem subjects,’ said Hamilton.
“I’ve been fighting the stigma of racism throughout my racing career, from kids throwing things at me while karting to being taunted by fans with blacked-up faces at a grand prix [in Spain in 2008], one of my first Formula One races,” added the Mercedes driver.
“I’m used to being one of very few people of colour on my teams and, more than that, I’m used to the idea that no one will speak up for me when I face racism, because no one personally feels or understands my experience.”
When speaking of the challenges he has faced, Hamilton pointed out that despite his own successes, there are still barriers that exist for people looking to follow in his footsteps.
“The institutional barriers that have kept F1 highly exclusive persist”
“It is not enough to point to me, or to a single new black hire, as a meaningful example of progress. Thousands of people are employed across this industry and that group needs to be more representative of society.”
Lewis Hamilton is the first black champion in the history of Formula One, and has been outspoken in his support of the Black Lives Matter campaign, even attending a peaceful protest at Hyde Park in London over the weekend.
“Winning championships is great, but I want to be remembered for my work creating a more equal society through education. That’s what drives me,” he said.
The commission will be used as a vehicle to see how motorsport can be used to encourage more people from black backgrounds into fields such as science, mathematics, engineering, and technology, with the aim to “employ them on our teams or in other engineering sectors”.
It will also look at the lack of role models, barriers to entry for people from diverse backgrounds, and systemic issues that see fewer black graduates entering professions in engineering.
“The time for platitudes and token gestures is over, I hope that The Hamilton Commission enables real, tangible and measurable change.
“When I look back in 20 years, I want to see the sport that gave a shy, working-class black kid from Stevenage so much opportunity, become as diverse as the complex and multicultural world we live in,” concluded Hamilton.