Seven-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton has admitted his journey has been 'quite lonely' as he continues to push for increased diversity within the sport.
Hamilton is the only black driver to ever race in F1, though Willy Ribs made history in 1986 by becoming the first black man to drive a Formula One car as he tested the vehicle but he never did take to the track for a race. The fact that F1's illustrious history has only seen two black drivers, only one of whom has raced, is frankly remarkable and it's something that Hamilton is looking to change, having set up the Hamilton Commission in 2020 that aims to improve diversity within the sport.
This weekend's maiden Miami Grand Prix has presented Hamilton with an opportunity to spread his message further and comes in important surroundings, with the mega-rich set to flock to the Hard Rock Stadium for the race – while local residents from poorer neighbourhoods will be blocked from the glitz and glamour.
"It's been genuinely quite a lonely journey. Me and my family were the only black family. I've been racing 29 years, I'm 37 now. But I've been professional for 16 years and always most often being the only person of colour in the room," he said on ABC's Good Morning America.
"And when I asked the question there was no real great feedback answer to that question so I put together the Hamilton Commission because it starts with education and understanding. We put together this body of research to try and understand what those barriers are.
"We found there are not only in our industry where we have over 40,000 jobs but only one per cent come from black backgrounds, but there are real systemic issues within the educational system as well. With the Hamilton Commission we've now started mission 44 which I've funded myself to try and create more representation, support and empowerment for these young under-served groups."
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Hamilton has pledged £20m to Mission 44, which will support 'organisations and programmes that narrow the gap in employment and education systems, through partnerships, collaborations, grant giving and advocacy'.
He has previously spoken about feeling disheartened about the lack of diversity despite his trailblazing following his sixth world championship in 2019, while he faced racism at the 2008 Spanish Grand Prix – though he didn't say anything.
On the track, Hamilton is facing struggles with Mercedes this season as he sits seventh in the standings after the first four rounds of racing with the German manufacturers seeing a significant threat to end their period of dominance following the latest regulation changes.
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