The Hamilton Commission, set up by seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton to increase the representation of Black people in motorsport, has today delivered its recommendations to bring about change in the industry.
In partnership with the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Hamilton Commission was launched last year with the aim of understanding why there are relatively few Black students who pursue careers in motorsport.
The Hamilton Commission Findings
After ten months of research, the Hamilton Commission identified various reasons for the lack of representation, including the geographic distance between the major motorsport hubs and Black communities in the U.K. and wider societal problems such as the disproportionate exclusion of Black students from schools and racism within further education.
The findings stated that “factors within wider society, some of which are systemic in nature, as well as practices within Formula One have been identified as contributing towards a situation in which only 1 per cent of employees in Formula One are from Black backgrounds”.
Hamilton, who is the only Black driver in F1, said he recognised some of the obstacles described in the report, but was surprised at the extent to which they existed.
“While I have enjoyed a successful career in motorsport, it’s been a lonely path as one of the few Black individuals within Formula One and, after fifteen years of waiting for the industry to catch up, I realised I had to take action myself,” he said.
“Through the commission’s research, we can see there are clear meaningful steps the motorsport industry needs to take towards creating a more inclusive environment where diversity can thrive but also that we must tackle the barriers facing Black students that exist throughout their educational journey.
“Some of these barriers I recognise from my own experiences, but our findings have opened my eyes to just how far-reaching these problems are. Now that I’m armed with the commission’s recommendations, I am personally committed to ensuring they are put into action.”
The Hamilton Commission Recommendations
According to the Hamilton Commission’s full report, the recommendations are divided into three key areas — support and empowerment, accountability and measurement, and inspiration and engagement — and include the following recommendations:
SUPPORT AND EMPOWERMENT: The commission calls on those in leadership positions to support Black children to excel in STEM subjects, and to empower them to choose – and succeed – in fulfilling careers.
ACCOUNTABILITY AND MEASUREMENT: The commission calls on those in leadership positions to step-up, to acknowledge the unfairness that exists and to commit to change – the first step being to collect data to form a benchmark from which to improve.
INSPIRATION AND ENGAGEMENT: The commission calls on those in leadership positions to work harder to show Black children that STEM subjects, engineering and motorsport ARE for them, and to excite them about the opportunities that they offer.
The Hamilton Commission – What’s next…
Mercedes and Hamilton recently renewed their F1 contract for the next two years. The deal also included the creation of a foundation that will improve inclusivity and diversity in motorsport. The foundation would help carry out the recommendations of the Hamilton Commission, he said.
“At the core of this for me, whatever we found [in the research], it was really important that we actually actioned it — this is a commission of action,” Hamilton said.
“So I’m proud to say this includes the new foundation that I’m starting and the joint initiative I’m starting with Mercedes, which is amazing. They will be taking some of the recommendations forward, as will I, and we are working closely with the FIA, Formula One and other engineering stakeholders to support us. There is a lot more to come later in the month, so this really is just the beginning, and I couldn’t be more excited.
“The time to change is now, and the thing that I will be most proud of at the end of my career, or beyond, is to look back at the U.K. motorsport industry in five, 10 or 15 years from now and see it more representative of our society.”
The creation of the commission was prompted by Hamilton’s observation that there was so little diversity in an end-of-year photo of the Mercedes F1 team in 2019. He also co-chaired the commission with Dr Hayaatun Sillem, chief executive of the Royal Academy of Engineering.
“Growing up in motorsport I often looked around me and wondered why I was one of very few people of colour,” Hamilton said. “It’s not just about drivers, it’s more about the great job opportunities there are for mechanics and engineers, in marketing and in accounting.
“Over the years, I thought that me being there and being successful and at the front [of the grid] would open more doors to Black talent. But at the end of 2019, after the race in Abu Dhabi, I was looking at the team photos and it was a really stark reminder, as I zoomed in on those pictures, how little progress had been made in the sport being inclusive.
“That’s when I knew I needed to do more,” concluded Hamilton.
Formula One CEO Stefano Domenicali said Tuesday that F1 supports Hamilton’s call for greater diversity.
“The Hamilton Commission has delivered a comprehensive and impressive report that shows the passion Lewis has for this very important issue,” he said. “We will take the time to read and reflect on all of the findings, but we completely agree that we need to increase diversity across the sport and we have taken action to address this and will be announcing more actions in the coming days.
“We want a sport that is representative of our hugely diverse fan base and that is why Formula One, the FIA and all the teams are working hard to deliver on our detailed plans to create positive change across the sport. There is always more to do and the report will stimulate thoughts about further actions that are required.”