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

By John Bett

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

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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.

"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.”

Lewis has established Mission 44 with a £20m pledge (Getty Images)

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.

Lewis has been in Formula 1 for years now, but recently he had an eye-opening experience (AFP/Getty Images)

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The recommendations include the implementation of a Diversity and Inclusion Charter for motorsport, the broadening of access to and expansion of apprenticeships, and the establishment of a 'new exclusions innovation fund' that would address the issue of students from black backgrounds being excluded from school.

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 and having their full potential limited.

"While I have enjoyed a successful career in motorsport, it’s been a lonely path as one of the few black individuals within Formula 1 and, after fifteen 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 motorsport 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.”

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