The Hamilton Commission publishes report, Mercedes respond

© Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

Lewis Hamilton has set up the Hamilton Commission to look into the barriers that make it harder for black people to enter the UK motorsport industry.

The effort was led by the Royal Academy of Engineering, and after a 10 month research period, the Commission has published its findings.

The Commission found a variety of reasons that have led to only 1% of employees in Formula 1 being from black backgrounds.

Some of them have to do with lower expectations of black students’ academic abilities that leads to lower entries to STEM subjects, as well as behaviour management practices that disproportionately affect black students, while others are related to motorsport teams practices.

For example the Commission discovered that F1 teams mostly employ students from certain high-ranking universities. In addition, due to geographical factors, opportunities for work experience at rural-based teams are often out of reach for students from black communities.

The Commission outlined 10 recommendations that they believe could improve diversity in motorsport:

  • Asking that F1 and other motorsport teams take the lead in implementing a Diversity and Inclusion Charter for motorsport, to commit the sector to improve diversity and inclusion across all organisations.
  • Calling for F1 teams and other motorsport businesses to broaden access to motorsport by expanding the apprenticeships provision to include higher apprenticeships and degree apprenticeships as an alternate pathway into the sector, as well as availability to paid work placement and work experience schemes.
  • Establishment of a new exclusions innovation fund, to develop programmes that address the factors that contribute to the high proportion of students from black backgrounds being excluded from schools.
  • Supporting the piloting of new approaches to increase the number of black teachers in STEM subjects that lead to careers in engineering, namely mathematics, physics, design and technology, and computing.
  • Supporting the creation of scholarship programmes to enable black graduates from degrees in engineering and allied subjects to progress into specialist motorsport roles.
  • Calling for additional STEM activity support to be provided to supplementary schools led by black community groups across the UK.

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They also highlighted that the new cost cap might make it more difficult for black students to enter Formula 1.

“We think that the cost cap is a barrier for teams to recruit apprentices, because apprentice salaries will be included in the costs for improving the performance of the car, “ said Rhys Morgan, director at The Royal Academy of Engineering.

“Why would a team take on a young 16-year-old, with no experience, when they could take on a time-served technician or mechanic, who’s going to be able to start working on the car.

“We think there’s an opportunity there to explore how to make some exclusions within the cost cap to encourage apprenticeship training.”

Formula 1 leadership already indicated they will examine the recommendations and start taking action immediately.

“The Hamilton Commission has delivered a comprehensive and impressive report that shows the passion Lewis has for this very important issue,” said Stefano Domenicali, President and CEO of Formula 1.

“We will take the time to read and reflect on all of the findings, but we completely agree that we need to increase diversity across the sport.

“We have taken action to address this and will be announcing more actions in the coming days.

“We want a sport that is representative of our hugely diverse fan base and that is why Formula 1, the FIA and all the teams are working hard to deliver on our detailed plans to create positive change across the sport.

“There is always more to do and the report will stimulate thoughts about further actions that are required.”

Lewis Hamilton said he will be personally do everything he can to make sure the findings of the Commission are not just forgotten.

“I’m really hoping that we can take the industry on a journey with us, and unite, so that we can make long lasting, meaningful progress,” the Briton said.

“We’ve already had a lot of positive feedback from the key stakeholders, which is amazing to see.

“In addition to launching this report, we’re also identifying the best parties and organisations to engage with, and also those that can also carry out our recommendations going forward, to ensure that the findings do not go ignored.

“This really is at the core of it, for me. It had to be not only great findings in whatever we find: the important thing is that we actually action it.”

Mercedes said they will continue to do their pro-diversity work and build on the recommendations of the Commission.

“We warmly welcome today’s publication of the Hamilton Commission report,” the team wrote in a press release.

“It is an important piece of research that shines a light on many of the barriers that have contributed to the under-representation of people from minority ethnic backgrounds in British motorsport, and it enriches our understanding of those barriers and how they can be addressed.

“Together with Lewis, we have begun working to build a more diverse and inclusive sport for the future, starting with the Mercedes Formula One team.

“We are at the beginning of a long journey together to make this happen and we look forward to building on a number of the Commission’s recommendations in the years ahead.”

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