Lewis Hamilton’s commission delivers recommendations to increase diversity in motorsport

Lewis Hamilton is the best paid F1 driver of all time, and a huge cheerleader for diversity in motorsport, so it’s seem that it’s a good idea to try and encourage more women and minority participation in the sport. Though there has been some progress, women only make up a quarter of F1’s top brass, and the industry as a whole is still dominated by white males.

Lewis Hamilton’s commission to improve the representation of women and minorities in motorsport has delivered recommendations to increase diversity in an industry that is still dominated by white males. The report stated that the only way to increase diversity within motorsports is to increase the number of women and minorities in the industry, because it is these groups that feel “hopelessly excluded”.

A committee set up by seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton to increase black representation in British motorsport has released its recommendations for changes to the sector.

The Hamilton Commission, which works with the Royal Academy of Engineering, was set up last year to understand why relatively few black students pursue careers in motorsport.

After ten months of investigation, the Hamilton Commission identified a number of reasons for the lack of representation, ranging from the geographical location of major motorsport centres outside the UK’s black communities to wider social issues, including examples of racism in higher education and the disproportionate exclusion of black pupils from schools.

It was found that factors in the company as a whole, some of which were systemic in nature, as well as F1’s practices contributed to only 1% of F1’s employees being black.

Hamilton, who is the only black driver in Formula One, said he knew some of the obstacles listed in the report from his own experience, but was also surprised by the extent of some of the problems.

Although I had a successful career in motorsport, it was a lonely journey as one of the few blacks in Formula One. After 15 years of waiting for the industry to catch up with me, I realized I needed to start for myself, he said.

The Commission’s research has shown that clear and meaningful steps need to be taken in the motorsports industry to create a more inclusive environment in which diversity can thrive, but we also need to address the barriers that black students face throughout their educational journey.

I know some of these barriers from my own experience, but our results have opened my eyes to the magnitude of these problems. Having been armed with the Commission’s recommendations, I personally intend to implement them.

Lewis Hamilton has been racing in Formula 1 since 2007. Dan Istiten – Formula One via Getty Images

The recommendations in the full Hamilton Commission report are divided into three core areas – support and empowerment, accountability and measurement, and inspiration and engagement – and include the following actions:

  • Call on Formula One teams (and other motorsport organisations) to take the lead in implementing a charter for diversity and inclusion in motorsport, so that the sector commits to improving diversity and inclusion across all organisations.
  • Calling on Formula One teams and other motorsport companies to improve access to motorsport by expanding the apprenticeship programme to include higher apprenticeships and diplomas as an alternative route into the industry, as well as access to paid apprenticeships and trainee programmes.
  • Establish an innovative new exclusion fund to develop programs that address the factors that contribute to the high rates of exclusion of black students from schools.
  • Support for testing new approaches to increase the number of black teachers of STEM subjects leading to engineering careers, namely mathematics, physics, design and technology, and computer science.
  • Support the establishment of scholarship programs to enable black graduates in engineering and related fields to pursue specialized positions in motorsports.
  • A call for additional support for STEM activities in additional schools run by black community groups in the UK.

Hamilton recently signed a new contract with Mercedes to remain involved in Formula 1 for the next two years. This includes the creation of a joint charity dedicated to improving inclusion and diversity in motorsport. He said the foundation will facilitate the implementation of the Hamilton Commission’s recommendations.

To me, what we found [in the study] was very important because we took action – it’s an action committee, Hamilton said.

So I’m proud to say that it includes a new foundation that I’m establishing and a joint initiative that I’m launching with Mercedes, which is great. Like me, they will implement some of the recommendations and we are working closely with the FIA, Formula 1 and other engineering stakeholders to help us do so. There’s more to come at the end of the month, so this is just the beginning, and I couldn’t be happier.

The time for change is now and what I will be most proud of is that at the end of my career or beyond, when I look back on the British motorsport industry in five, ten or fifteen years time, I will see that it is a better reflection of our society.

Hamilton, who chaired the panel along with Royal Academy of Engineering chief Dr Hayaatun Sillem, said the idea for the panel was prompted by the lack of diversity in the Mercedes F1 team’s 2019 end-of-season image.

Growing up in motorsports, I often looked around and wondered why I was one of the few people of color, Hamilton said. It’s not just about drivers, but also great job opportunities for mechanics and engineers, in marketing and accounting.

Over the years, I thought my presence, success and results [on the field] would open more doors for black talent. But in late 2019, after the race in Abu Dhabi, I looked at photos of the team, and when I zoomed in on the images, it was a vivid reminder of how little progress has been made in inclusive sport.

Then I realized I needed to do more.

Formula One CEO Stefano Domenicali issued a statement on Tuesday saying Formula One supports Hamilton in his push for more diversity.

The Hamilton Commission has produced a comprehensive and impressive report, showing Lewis’ passion for this very important issue. We will need time to read and understand all the conclusions, but we are in complete agreement that we need to increase diversity in the sport. We have taken steps to address this and will announce further measures in the coming days.

We want the sport to be representative of the diversity of our supporters. That is why Formula 1, the FIA and all the teams are working hard to implement our detailed plans to bring about positive changes across the sport. There is still work to be done and the report will stimulate reflection on the measures to be taken.

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