- in Science
Lewis Hamilton has vowed to increase the number of black people in motor racing, naming a group to analyse the causes of a lack of diversity.
The British Formula 1 world champion said members of his Hamilton Commission “together will make a change”.
Hamilton will lead the group alongside Dr Hayaatun Sillem, the chief executive of the Royal Academy of Engineering.
The 14 members include former sports minister Tracey Crouch and ex-McLaren Formula 1 boss Martin Whitmarsh.
Mercedes driver Hamilton, 35, has set the commission the target of identifying the “key barriers to the recruitment and progression of black people in UK motorsport” and providing “actionable recommendations to overcome them”.
A statement said the composition of the commission had been chosen to “represent a wide range of expertise spanning critical areas of influence, including motorsport, engineering, schools, colleges and universities, community/youth groups, as well as major UK political parties”.
Other members include Professor Alice Gast, the president of Imperial College London and Chi Onwurah, the Labour MP for Newcastle-upon-Tyne and shadow minister for digital, science and technology.
Hamilton is F1’s first and so far only black driver. The sport’s only other non-white competitor is Red Bull’s Alexander Albon, a Britain-born Thai.
Six-time world champion Hamilton said: “What is more concerning is that there are still very few people of colour across the sport as a whole.
“In F1, our teams are much bigger than the athletes that front them, but representation is insufficient across every skill set – from the garage to the engineers in the factories and design departments.
“Change isn’t coming quickly enough and we need to know why.
“This is why I wanted to set up the commission and I’m proud to be working with the Royal Academy of Engineering and our incredible board of commissioners to identify the barriers facing young black people to take up STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) careers in motorsport.
“We are dedicated to this cause and, together, we will make a change.”
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Sillem said: “This is a truly unique opportunity to drive transformational change on this crucial issue and, in the process, to learn more about how we can enrich diversity in other parts of engineering and society.”
Gast said the commission would “not only strengthen Formula 1 and motorsport, but will help bring needed talent into engineering”.
“Inclusion and excellence go hand in hand. Lewis is a role model for future stars of engineering and innovation as much as he is a sporting icon and I’m very pleased to be working with him,” she added.
Hamilton has been at the forefront of F1’s attempts this year to promote an anti-racist and pro-diversity agenda, which includes demonstrations before every grand prix.
His Mercedes team have painted their cars black for this season, instead of their trademark silver, as a signal of their commitment to greater diversity and inclusion.
Hamilton called the move “an important statement we are willing to change and improve as a business”.
The team admitted that “just 3% of our workforce identify as belonging to minority ethnic groups and only 12% of our employees are women”.
Mercedes have pledged to increase those numbers and Hamilton has called on all other teams to match that commitment.
F1 as a sport has launched an equality and diversity taskforce to increase opportunity for minority groups and has pledged to work with the Hamilton Commission.
Hamilton will publish the findings and recommendations of his commission and take it “directly to key stakeholders who can help implement change”.
A statement added: “Commissioners will also support this effort by applying their personal influence to champion the insights and recommendations from the project.”