Nicholas Hamilton: ‘When Lewis is gone, who have you got to look up to?’

© LAT Images for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd

Lewis Hamilton‘s half-brother Nicholas talks about the lack of diversity in motorsport and the difficulties he encountered in his life.

The younger Hamilton, also a racing driver who currently competes in the British Touring Car Championship, talked to CNN Sport about the lack of diversity in motorspot.

“At the moment, you look at motorsport as an industry and it’s hard to get in touch with,” said Nicholas.

“You don’t know where to go to get an opportunity. You don’t see any Black faces there, or very few, and the one that you do at the moment is Lewis and he’s at the top of it.

“When he’s gone, you know, who have you got to look up to? Who are you going to see?

“There’s not many people, females as well, females love cars just as much as men do and so there’s no reason why they shouldn’t have equal opportunity in that sense as well.”

Hamilton recalls an incident that happened during a test session in Barcelona in 2008. A group of  fans painted their faces black and wore curly wigs and t-shirts that said “Hamilton’s family”. This prompted the FIA to start an anti-racism campaign. Unfortunately this wasn’t an isolated incident.

“We struggled as a Black family, we had a lot of racist abuse,” continued Nicolas.

“My parents, you know, did their best to make sure that I didn’t really understand what was going on, so it didn’t mean that I was able to really be outspoken and think: ‘Yeah, I really don’t think I have the opportunities that I believe I should have.’

“I went to an all white school and I was the only Black person there, but at the time, as a kid, I didn’t realize that that was a problem.

“In motorsport, there are very few people of color and when there are people of color, sometimes you see a lot of racial abuse.

“So at the time, yeah, motorsport wasn’t doing enough… but now it’s starting to, which is a good thing.”

“As the Hamilton family, we’re in a strong position to be able to [help] make change. But it doesn’t matter whether we want to make that change, the governing bodies have to listen to us.”

“There is clearly a difference in opportunity if you are a person of color in comparison to a White person.

“I’m not necessarily outspoken, I just try and keep myself to myself, but I know that there are a lot of changes that need to be made.

“Being the only Black person in my school to being a part of the only Black family within motorsport as an industry, you know, you sort of sit back and realize that’s wrong on all levels and that everybody should be able to have equal opportunity, regardless of color, creed or situation of their life and Lewis being able to use his platform to strengthen that for others is a great thing.”

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Nicholas, who has cerebral palsy, doesn’t think the fight for diversity in motorsport should be limited only to issues of race.

“I would love to see people in wheelchairs being able to access the circuit, access race cars. You know, whether they are a mechanic or they’re an engineer or an aerodynamicist.

“They might come from a different background, never been able to walk… that’s fine, but they can still continue to follow their dream of being a mechanic, or whatever it is, in an industry that was once difficult [for them] to get into.

“I would love to see that,” concluded Nicholas.

Nicholas’ half-brother Lewis Hamilton is definitely doing a lot to bring the issue of racial inequality and diversity to the public’s eye. After being named on TIME Magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2020 list, Lewis explained why he belies it is his duty to try and spark change.

“My dad would always say: ‘Do your talking on the track,'” Lewis explained.

“So I suppressed these things and it brought up a lot and I was like I’ve got a niece and nephew and I’m like I want to utilize my time and my platform and my voice to change the future for them and for the other kids around the world.

“I should’ve done more, I thought me just being in the sport would’ve just shifted things but it hasn’t been enough and so I’m making sure that I correct that or at least apply my efforts and time.”


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