LONDON (AFP) – Formula One (F1) world champion Lewis Hamilton is launching his own diversity body to attract more black youngsters into motor racing, insisting the “time for token gestures is over”.
Hamilton, a powerful and influential voice in the current anti-racism movements sweeping the globe, is the only black driver in F1.
He said he was teaming up with Britain’s Royal Academy of Engineering to launch The Hamilton Commission to help make motor racing “as diverse as the complex and multicultural world we live in”.
“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 in black face at a 2007 Grand Prix, one of my first Formula One races,” 35-year-old Hamilton said in an article in The Sunday Times.
“Despite my success in the sport, 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.”
The research partnership wants to encourage young black people to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Hamilton hopes that will then open up avenues for them to boost the number of minorities represented in Formula One.
“The time for platitudes and token gestures is over,” added the six-time world champion.
“I hope that The Hamilton Commission enables real, tangible and measurable change.”