‘Change isn't coming quickly enough’ says Hamilton as ex-McLaren boss joins his new diversity commission
Lewis Hamilton has promised to "make a change" in motorsport on the day he announced board members of his new diversity commission – one of which will be his former McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh.
Back in June, as the Black Lives Matter movement was gaining momentum, the six-time World Champion announced he was setting up The Hamilton Commission to try to tackle inequality in motor racing.
And on Thursday, Hamilton named the 14 members of the commission, which has been launched in partnership with the Royal Academy of Engineering.
Hamilton, who will co-chair the organisation alongside Dr Hayaatun Sillem CBE, Chief Executive of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said he is determined to bring about real change through the commission's work.
"Since I began my professional racing career in Formula One, 14 years ago, I was the first driver of colour and to this day, sadly that is still the case," Hamilton said. "However, 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.
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"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 careers in motorsport. We are dedicated to this cause and together, we will make a change."
The commission's board - which has already held its first meeting - is made up of British Members of Parliament as well as education and industry experts including ex-McLaren boss Whitmarsh, and speaking ahead of this weekend's Russian Grand Prix, Hamilton said it was key to have a wide range of people working on the project.
"It was a very long vetting process choosing the most knowledgeable individuals I could, also [to] have a very diverse board.
"Martin [Whitmarsh] was very much a part of my career in getting me to Formula 1. I spoke to him every week when I was a kid, nagging him to help me get to Formula 1. It was interesting speaking with him as he wanted to help me succeed but he hadn’t seen my colour as being an issue. So a lot of the people that are now on the commission, some of them are there for education, because they want to learn how they can have a better impact when they are working on policies.
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"I just wanted to have a real eclectic group of people who can give us the best advice and guidance in understanding the data that we collate.
"After having the meeting with everyone – we had a big Zoom conference recently – I just feel massively energised and excited. It’s really encouraging to see how determined everyone is to get a great result and to work together, and they’ve already taken huge strides."
The Board of Commissioners in full:
Karen Chouhan, Lead Equality Officer with a specialism in race policy for the National Education Union
Jeremy Crook OBE, Chief Executive of the Black Training and Enterprise Group
Tracey Crouch MP, former Sports Minister and British Conservative Party politician
Dr Nike Folayan MBE, Co-Founder and Chair of the Association for Black and Minority Ethnic Engineers, AFBE-UK
Professor Alice Gast FREng, President of Imperial College London
Mark Hamlin, Chair of Project 44
Dr Zubaida Haque, Former Interim Director of the Runnymede Trust
Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE, Co-Founder of Stemettes and Trustee at the Institute for the Future of Work
George Imafidon, Co-Founder of Motivez, One Young World Ambassador and Royal Academy of Engineering Scholar
Glen Lambert, Head of School of Construction, Science and Engineering at College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London
Professor David MBA, Pro-Vice Chancellor Research and Enterprise, and Dean of the Faculty of Computing, Engineering and Media at De Montfort University
Izzy Obeng, Managing Director at Foundervine and Non-Executive Director for Capital Enterprise
Chi Onwurah MP, British Member of Parliament representing Newcastle upon Tyne Central and also Shadow Minister Digital, Science & Technology
Martin Whitmarsh, Former CEO of the McLaren Formula One Team, Member of the Global Advisory Board of Formula E, Chair of the Offshore Wind Growth Partnership Limited and Chairman of BAR Technologies Limited