Lewis Hamilton: 'I discovered my purpose, it's not just being an F1 driver'

Lewis Hamilton says he feels a responsibility to be more than just a racing driver for the rest of his Formula 1 career.

The 37-year-old is the most successful athlete in the history of the sport, with more race wins and pole positions than any other driver, as well as the joint-highest number of drivers’ championships with seven.

In the past few years he has taken a more prominent role on social issues, including the Black Lives Matter movement from 2020 onwards, and has set up the Hamilton Commission initiative with the goal of increasing the participation of black people in motorsport. Hamilton is the only black driver to have raced in F1 in its 72-year history.

Hamilton regularly works with his Mercedes team and Formula 1 itself on social issues. After consultation with Hamilton, he Silver Arrows have committed to increasing the proportion of black and minority ethnic personnel in its staff, and F1 has launched a task force with the goal of identifying employment and education opportunities for under-represented groups in motorsport.

Telling Sky Sports about his goals for the future, Hamilton said: ‘My role here I think is to continue to hold those conversations, sit with Stefano [Domenicali, F1’s CEO] and say “what are you doing and how can we work together?”‘

‘It goes back to bringing people on the journey rather than calling people out and unfortunately it takes a lot of yapping but I think people seem more keen to be on the journey together and they empathise more with it and say yes, we can do a better job.

‘I’ve got this platform and I am able to apply pressure in an uncomfortable way sometimes but also it is a real opportunity to spark that change and that for me is more rewarding than any championship.’

Hamilton is aiming to win a record-breaking eighth world championship in 2022, but Mercedes’ W13 car will require improvements if its star driver is able to compete with the likes of Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc for the crown. Whether Hamilton wins another title or not is less important to the man himself than the lasting effect of his career on young people.

‘My goal is that in the next five, ten years you’re looking back at the sport and I am watching TV, hopefully with my kids, and they see young women engineers and mechanics and they’ll know there is an opportunity,’ he said.

‘I think as I started getting older, I started thinking I am winning these Championships but what does it really mean and I realised that these championships are very rewarding personally but they’re not changing anything.

‘You have another credit to your name but it doesn’t change the world, it doesn’t change the fact we still have wars, we still have racial injustice, there are still people being abused there are all sorts of things out there so what are we going to use this medium for, what are we going to use this platform for.

Hamilton also spoke about the power of social media to enact change, and how his relationship with online discourse has changed over the years.

‘When I was younger and first getting into social media it was very much about building up your platform because obviously the more followers you have the more influence you have,’ he said. ‘Then as I started getting older, realising that when I press this button it’s coming up on other people’s phones, what do I want that post to say.

‘I was like I want to take a step back, I want to re-evaluate my life, to re-evaluate where I am and I came to the realisation that I’m not going to let that define my career, it’s one moment but there’s going to be other great moments moving forward.

‘I guess I really discovered my purpose, it’s not just being a racing driver.’

The second race of the 2022 Formula 1 season takes place this Sunday at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit in Saudi Arabia.

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