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Lewis Hamilton says he is most passionate about improving diversity in Formula 1, rather than winning titles

Lewis Hamilton has been a vocal advocate of greater diversity in Formula 1, with the seven-time world champion insisting his focus remains on the fight for improved representation; Hamilton also discusses the changing backgrounds of new drivers in the sport

Last Updated: 21/05/21 8:00am

Lewis Hamilton will continue to challenge those around him on diversity

Lewis Hamilton insisted he is happy to have the difficult discussions and prioritise the need for greater diversity in Formula 1.

Hamilton, chasing a record-equalling eighth F1 world championship this season, has taken a record 98 grands prix victories and 100 pole positions in his career to date, all while becoming an increasingly vocal campaigner for diversity.

He launched his own commission to look into the reasons for under-representation for those from minority backgrounds in motorsport last year, while Mercedes have pledged to improve the diversity of their own team.

In an interview with Spanish newspaper AS as he vies for pole at the Monaco GP, Hamilton pledged to keep his focus on what he calls his top priority, given he remains the only Black driver in the sport.

Lewis Hamilton says he is most passionate about improving diversity in Formula 1, rather than winning titles

Lewis Hamilton says he is most passionate about improving diversity in Formula 1, rather than winning titles 0:39
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“My dad, my brother and I we were always the only people of colour, it was just normal for us,” Hamilton said. “But we were always aware of it. It became normal for us, but at the beginning it was very obvious to us that we weren’t always welcome.

“So, I have this commission, which shows you the challenges and barriers Black people in particular face, that white people perhaps don’t. It’s not about dividing, it’s about bringing people together, it’s about holding people accountable.

“For me, I’m comfortable having conversations with my boss, with Mercedes, with partners. We have to have those uncomfortable conversations. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about. ‘What can we do together to make it more diverse?’ All the businesses need to be more reflective of the world around us.

Lewis Hamilton says he is most passionate about improving diversity in Formula 1, rather than winning titles

Lewis Hamilton says he is most passionate about improving diversity in Formula 1, rather than winning titles 0:49
Hamilton has urged people to keep fighting for positive change and to continue combatting racial injustice after he picked up the Athlete Advocate of the Year Award at the Laureus World Sports Awards

Hamilton has urged people to keep fighting for positive change and to continue combatting racial injustice after he picked up the Athlete Advocate of the Year Award at the Laureus World Sports Awards

“It’s not going to change anything [winning the world championship]. I know who I am and what I’m capable of, where I come from and what we’ve achieved. What I would be proud of is that last year the team only had three per cent diversity. If at the end of this year we have five per cent or slightly more, and in the next couple of years we were into the teens, that for me is huge.

“So that’s what I’m most passionate about.”

Hamilton also discussed how he feels the type of drivers coming into the sport have changed since he broke onto the scene.

Lewis Hamilton says he is most passionate about improving diversity in Formula 1, rather than winning titles

Lewis Hamilton says he is most passionate about improving diversity in Formula 1, rather than winning titles 1:42
Hamilton says it was humbling to receive such high praise from Damon Hill at the Spanish Grand Prix

Hamilton says it was humbling to receive such high praise from Damon Hill at the Spanish Grand Prix

The 36-year-old grew up on a council estate where his father, Anthony, held down multiple jobs to put him through karting. Hamilton got his big break aged 13 when McLaren signed him to their driver development programme, sponsoring his rise from that moment on.

Many of the grid this season have come from a very different background. Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll, Williams’ Nicholas Latifi and Haas’ Nikita Mazepin all have billionaire fathers.

“For me, personally, we’re living in a time that this is really a billionaire boys’ club,” he said. “If I go back to where I started, growing up in a normal working-class family, there’s no way that I could be here. No way. All the guys that you’re fighting against just have that much more money.

Lewis Hamilton says he is most passionate about improving diversity in Formula 1, rather than winning titles

Lewis Hamilton says he is most passionate about improving diversity in Formula 1, rather than winning titles 1:33
Hamilton has given his support to the social media boycott against online hate and believes social media platforms haven’t done enough to combat abuse

Hamilton has given his support to the social media boycott against online hate and believes social media platforms haven’t done enough to combat abuse

“I think for the future we’ve got to work to change that. To make it more accessible, to people from rich and more normal backgrounds.

“There are always waves of drivers that come through. There was me and Nico [Rosberg] and [Robert] Kubica, and [Fernando] Alonso just before that, there was the [Michael] Schumacher era, there are always going to be eras.”

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