New BAME project created following Hamilton's plea for F1 diversity

Lewis Hamilton’s pleas for greater diversity in F1 takes big step as former Force India chief Bob Fernley plans scheme to unearth BAME engineering stars of the future

  • Britain’s Lewis Hamilton has called for more diversity within Formula One
  • The world champion set up the Hamilton Commission in June to aid cause
  • Ex-Force India chief boss Bob Fernley plans to run old F1 car for BAME project
  • Johnny Herbert could pilot the Ensign vehicle at the 2021 Historic Monaco GP 

Lewis Hamilton’s call for greater diversity in Formula One has been answered by one of the sport’s former team bosses.

The Mercedes driver has been vocal in his demands to encourage more diversity in the sport, and last month announced the creation of the Hamilton Commission to  help achieve this aim.

‘Despite my success in the sport, the institutional barriers that have kept F1 highly exclusive persist,’ Hamilton said back in June.

Former Force India chief Bob Fernley has started a project focusing on developing engineering talent from BAME backgrounds involved in motorsport

‘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.

‘For this reason, I have been working with the Royal Academy of Engineering to create The Hamilton Commission, a research partnership dedicated to exploring how motorsport can be used as a vehicle to engage more young people from black backgrounds with Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects and, ultimately, employ them on our teams or in other engineering sectors.’

Now ex-Force India deputy chief, Bob Fernley has linked up with RoKit telecoms boss Jonathan Kendrick to unearth BAME engineering stars of the future.

Lewis Hamilton has been vocal in his demands for more diversity within Formula One

Fernley has put forward his Ensign F1 car, which finished sixth at the 1981 Monaco Grand Prix, to be run by students attending the National Centre for Motorsport Engineering (NCME) at the University of Bolton. Forty-seven of the 196 students are from a BAME background.

Three-time grand prix winner Johnny Herbert will drive the students’ machine at a private test in Anglesey at the end of the month, with the hope of competing at the Masters Historic Festival at Brands Hatch next month and then the 2021 Historic Monaco Grand Prix.

‘There has long been the feeling, outlined by Lewis so eloquently, that women and people from the BAME community and youngsters from council estates who don’t have the money to take part in what is a massively expensive sport are missing from motor racing and Formula One,’ said Fernley, the 52-year-old, who was second in command at Force India for more than a decade.

Fernley’s project will see him provide his Ensign F1 car from 1981 (above) in the hope of competing in the 2021 Historic Monaco Grand Prix

Former British Grand Prix winner Johnny Herbert will test the car later in July and could feature in the cockpit for next year’s race

‘We want to change that, which is why Jonathan and I are acting as benefactors to try to bring through new, young talent that otherwise would never have the opportunity to surface.

‘This is the most exciting project of its type so far. The students will be working on a proper Formula One car that has been raced for real around the world and which will have many of the same aerodynamic characteristics as the Mercedes that Lewis will be driving in the future.’

Six-time world champion Hamilton has been vocal on the topic of diversity in the sport. He performed the Black Power salute after winning Sunday’s Styrian Grand Prix and vowed to spend the remainder of his life fighting racism. The Briton will be back in action at this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix, the third round of the new season.

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