Lewis Hamilton determined to improve diversity in motorsport with £20m pledge

picture of a black man with a mask
picture of a black man with a mask
Seven-time Formula One World Champion Lewis Hamilton says he is determined to be a driving force behind improving diversity in the sport, as he donates £20m to a new charitable foundation

Seven-time Formula One World Champion Sir Lewis Hamilton has established a new charitable foundation to support under-represented young people in the UK, with a £20m pledge.

Lewis has set up Mission 44, which aims to ‘support, champion and empower young people from underrepresented groups in the UK’, and which will also tackle diversity in motorsport through a side project – Ignite.

Working with Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 team, Ignite aims to improve diversity in motor-racing, by narrowing ‘the gap in employment and education systems’ for ethnic minorities.

Hamilton is the only black driver to have raced in the elite league of motor-racing that is Formula 1, and said that he thought his inclusion would have broken the mould – but to this day people from ethnic minorities are still grossly misrepresented in the sport. Lewis Hamilton said: “Supporting the ambitions of underrepresented young people has always been important to me and Mission 44 represents my commitment to create real change within this community.

Lewis is a hugely successful racing driver, and he wants to improve diversity in the sport ( Image: Getty Images)

“In my early life, I experienced first-hand how coming from an underrepresented background can affect your future but, luckily for me, I was able to overcome those odds through opportunity and support. I want to ensure that other young people from similar backgrounds are able to do the same. I am so grateful that Mercedes are joining me on our initiative Ignite, with the goal to improve representation within the motorsport industry. The findings of The Hamilton Commission and its recommendations have provided us with a fantastic basis to begin our work. Change within the industry is long overdue, but we are now firmly on the journey towards transforming it for the better.”

Earlier this year, the Hamilton Commission released a report, ‘Accelerating Change: Improving Representation of Black People in UK Motorsport’, which focussed on the hurdles black students face when entering motorsport through engineering, factors within wider society, and practices within Formula 1.

The report added that only one per cent of employees in Formula 1 are from black backgrounds. The report identified ten recommendations that would have a ‘long lasting’ positive impact on the motorsport industry, and encourage more young black students to pursue subjects that lead to careers in engineering.