Seven-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton called for more diversity in motorsports and helping the next generation during a virtually streamed discussion at the Watches and Wonders 2022 exhibition in Geneva on Friday.
“We’re so privileged to be in the position that we’re in and we now have a platform,” he stressed during a talk session. “I think all of us, at a certain stage in our lives, we have a responsibility to give a helping hand to the younger generation. The younger generation are the future.”
Hamilton, who races for the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team, is considered the sport’s most successful driver in history.
Off the racing track, Hamilton has set up the Hamilton Commission last year in association with the Britain’s Royal Academy of Engineering in a bid to identify the root causes of the lack of diversity in British motorsport and F1 specifically.
It found that none of the seven British-based F1 teams or 4,000 UK motorsport companies had ethnicity data for employees. An estimate, however, suggested that only one percent of the 40,000 strong workforce came from black backgrounds.
“There are things that need changing,” the Briton urged. “I didn’t feel like I was going to be able to have a big enough impact in creating more diversity in drivers coming up, because it’s a very, very expensive sport. It’s a very, very wealthy sport, and it gets more and more expensive each year as costs go up.”
“It feels amazing to be able to help and inspire and lift the new ones that are coming through. That’s one of the biggest focuses that I have now,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton also set up Ignite, a joint charitable initiative with his F1 team to improve diversity and inclusion in motorsports and launched the Mission 44 foundation which aims to support and empower young people from underrepresented groups in the UK.
“What I realized is there’s a lot of opportunity to help shift the landscape. We started Mission 44 to focus on underrepresented youth getting into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) subjects, and to really work with the sport and bring in a new pipeline of youngsters,” Hamilton explained.
“Because unfortunately it’s just not a fair playground, and opportunity is everything,” he stressed.
Watches and Wonders Geneva, the watch industry’s major annual event, takes place in Geneva in a hybrid format from March 30 to April 5.