Hamilton speaks to Martin Brundle on improving diversity within Formula 1; Full interview airs during Sky F1’s Austrian GP coverage this weekend
Last Updated: 02/07/20 5:12pm
Lewis Hamilton believes Formula 1 as a whole can unite to drive change and make the sport more diverse and inclusive for the future.
F1’s six-time world champion has been a powerful and leading voice in recent weeks calling for an end to racism and discrimination around the world, while also challenging the sport he competes in to become more inclusive.
In order to help drive change in the long-term, Hamilton has launched a research project in his own name – The Hamilton Commission – while his Mercedes team are running black cars in the 2020 season in a powerful statement of their own intent to promote diversity and inclusion.
F1’s season-opening weekend also represents the public launch of the sport’s new We Race As One initiative.
On the sport’s return at the Austrian GP, Hamilton spoke to Sky Sports F1’s Martin Brundle in his first sit-down TV interview since the Australian GP was cancelled in March.
The full, wide-ranging interview will air during the course of Sky Sports F1’s coverage of the Austrian GP weekend – including our Diversity in Motorsport programme at 1pm on Saturday ahead of qualifying.
Hamilton has spoken about racist abuse he suffered when he was a youngster in karting and asked if he had also ever experienced racism inside F1, Hamilton said: “I have. I won’t talk about which that experience was, but I have, particularly in the earlier phases of my career here.
“I would say over the last years I haven’t, it’s not something that I particularly see.
“What I do see though is very much like when I was at school. I’d go to school as 1,500 kids and I was one of maybe five or six black kids and you feel quite alone. The feeling that you’re led to not feel like you particularly fit into society.
“When you walk into the paddock of Formula 1 there might be one or two other people of colour in this whole paddock, in all the teams. This is nothing new for me: this has been the case the way it has been since I got to Formula 1, since I started karting.
“It’s been something I’ve been talking to Toto [Wolff] about, really trying to improve diversity within our team and it’s great that he has been so open to listening and not kind of fighting back, because a lot of people do take offence to it or feel like you’re being targeted.
“But it’s not about that, it’s about working together, moving forwards, being understanding and trying to improve.”
Asked if he would take a knee at a race this season, “I’ve not spoken to the other drivers. During this time the question has been asked to me and, honestly, it’s not been something that has been on the top of my mind.
“I’ve not come here this weekend with a determined mind frame to go and kneel before the race. So, I really don’t know, you’ll see on Sunday whether I decide to do that and whether I feel it’s appropriate. But I hope that we are all united one way or another. I’m sure the drivers will speak before the race so we are kind of aligned.”
Calling on all areas of the sport to do more, Hamilton added that “there’s so many opportunities out there and we need to make it more open and more accessible.”
The Formula 1 season begins on Friday on Sky Sports F1 with the Austrian GP. Sunday’s race starts at 2.10pm. Find out more & subscribe.