Seven-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton has published his much-anticipated report into improving diversity in motor sport, putting forward 10 recommendations to bring about lasting change within the industry.
The British driver has taken the knee before every F1 race since the beginning of last season while he has persuaded his Mercedes team to paint its cars black in a defiant crusade against racism.
Last year he established the Hamilton Commission and a 14-strong board has returned its findings, asking for a diversity and inclusion charter to be implemented in F1 teams and other motor sport organisations.
Expanding the apprenticeship provision to include higher apprenticeships and degree apprenticeships as an alternate pathway into the sector are among the other suggestions to attempt to draw in under-represented groups to F1.
Paid work placement and work experience schemes, as well as supporting the creation of scholarship programmes to enable black graduates from degrees to progress into specialist motor sport roles have also been proposed.
Time will be taken to digest the “comprehensive and impressive report”, according to Stefano Domenicali, but the F1 president and CEO says the hierarchy “completely agree that we need to increase diversity across the sport”.
Hamilton said: “Given the right opportunities and support, young people can excel at whatever they put their minds to.
“But our research shows that many young, black people are being closed out of opportunities within STEM (subjects – science, technology, engineering and mathematics), and having their full potential limited.”
The board of commissioners – which includes Hamilton’s former boss at McLaren, Martin Whitmarsh – were brought in for their knowledge in subjects such as motor sport, politics, education and engineering.
Their research has highlighted several factors that have contributed towards a situation where only one per cent of F1 employees are from a black background, including hiring practices that favour students from a select group of high-ranking universities and a lack of black role models in STEM teaching positions.
“While I have enjoyed a successful career in motor sport, it’s been a lonely path as one of the few black individuals within Formula One,” Hamilton added.
“After 15 years of waiting for the industry to catch up, I realised I had to take action myself. In order to do that, I needed to understand what was preventing the industry from being as diverse as the world around it.
“Through the commission’s research, we can see there are clear meaningful steps the motor sport industry needs to take towards creating a more inclusive environment where diversity can thrive but also that we must tackle the barriers facing black students that exist throughout their educational journey.
“Some of these barriers I recognise from my own experiences, but our findings have opened my eyes to just how far-reaching these problems are. Now that I’m armed with the commission’s recommendations, I am personally committed to ensuring they are put into action. I’m so proud of our work to date, but this is really just the beginning.”
The report, titled ‘Accelerating Change: Improving Representation of Black People in UK Motorsport’, has taken 10 months to compile, with 10 research-orientated actionable recommendations to contribute to long-lasting change.
Domenicali said: “The Hamilton Commission has delivered a comprehensive and impressive report that shows the passion Lewis has for this very important issue.
“We will take the time to read and reflect on all of the findings, but we completely agree that we need to increase diversity across the sport and we have taken action to address this and will be announcing more actions in the coming days.
“We want a sport that is representative of our hugely diverse fan base and that is why Formula 1, the FIA and all the teams are working hard to deliver on our detailed plans to create positive change across the sport. There is always more to do and the report will stimulate thoughts about further actions that are required.”
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