By Alexia Tibil
“I’m not afraid to swim against the stream[…] I’ve got this platform, I’m able to apply pressure in an uncomfortable way sometimes, but also it’s a real opportunity to really spark that change and that for me is more rewarding than any Championship.”
- Sir Lewis Hamilton in a historic interview for Sky Sports F1 with Naomi Schiff.
One of the most spectacular journeys in motorsport, and not only, began at the Australian Grand Prix back in 2007, when Lewis Hamilton showed up for his first ever race in Formula One. Driving for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, the 22 year old boy from Stevenage came through with a fabulous drive and secured P3 in his first ever Grand Prix weekend. He turned heads not only throughout the paddock, but also throughout the grid for his unique driving techniques. Thenceforth, his marvelous resilience on track, that he had back then, is something that turned in his favour in the years to come, getting him to clinch the record-equalling seven World Championships in 2020. Although he is beyond a shadow of a doubt the most successful Formula One driver of all time, some have tried to diminish Lewis’ on track success because of his drive to spark THAT change, to start THAT uncomfortable conversation with powerful people within the sport and to therefore leave his mark in the industry.
Ever since his arrival in the sport, Lewis Hamilton has been making headlines all over the world, and for a long period of time, because of the fact that he has been and still is the only black driver on the grid, people have tried to diminish the power of his voice. Nevertheless, the 25th of May 2020, marked to be one of the most pivotal moments in his personal life. The harrowing death of George Floyd ignited something in Lewis and made him use his voice in a way that he has never done before. While the world was faced with the beginning of the pandemic and Formula One was at a stop until mid-June, Lewis advocated for equality in the “Black Lives Matter” movement off track. Yet, when Formula One returned, his fight for diversity was also heard throughout the paddock. He was making waves, demanding a more diversified sport not only when it comes to employees, but also to drivers.
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“This is history!” said Lewis in an in-depth recent interview with Rwandan racing driver Naomi Schiff. In this particular piece, Lewis Hamilton opened up about the lack of diversity in the sport, whilst also touching on sensitive subjects such as his struggles as a person of color in the industry. Constantly fighting for a more diverse environment in motorsport, Lewis talked to Naomi about his work behind the scenes, a work that is meant to push Formula One into becoming a less male/white dominated sport. Furthermore, he also specifically mentions his platforms, platforms that are meant to increase the opportunities for young kids from all backgrounds to pursue their dreams to someday get to the pinnacle of motorsport that is Formula One. Additionally, he also broaches about offering black fashion designers a seat at the table for last year’s Met Gala.
The event took place in mid-September and whilst being a Met Gala veteran, Lewis took this opportunity in the blink of an eye and chose to “step out of the spotlight” in order to show his absolute support to black creatives. That included Kenneth Nicholson and Edvin Thompson and thus, his table at the event turned out to be a particularly significant “raise of awareness” when it comes to American fashion and not only. Moreover, Lewis can’t help but acknowledge his gratitude and joy towards the fact that more women work in motorsport, whether it is behind the camera, in an F1 team or as journalists. Lastly, Lewis Hamilton’s immense urge to fight for diversity and inclusion in every industry that he is involved in has made him develop “The Hamilton Commission”, an organization that he and Naomi also touch on during their historic interview.
While his ambitions to surpass Michael Schumacher when it comes to World Championships are still high, Hamilton feels the need to emphasize the fact that his purpose in Formula One is definitely more than just winning titles. He tells Naomi Schiff that his goal “is that in the next five, ten years you’re looking back at the sport and I am watching TV, hopefully with my kids, and they see young women engineers and mechanics and they’ll know there is an opportunity”.
The 2021 Formula 1 season saw new races added to the F1 calendar and one of those was the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. For that particular race, as well as several others in the Middle East, Lewis decided to wear a racing helmet featuring the Progress Pride flag, an indirect statement from him to show his full support to the entire LGBTQ+ community. He has constantly expressed his concern for the country’s “pretty terrifying” laws against LGBTQ+ members and whilst not many drivers touched on this particular subject, he made sure that his constant solidarity to the community will eventually make a change for the better.
His ceaseless initiatives have shown the world not only that it is vital to use your voice in critical situations, but also that with constant conversations, you can truly make a change. That is what defines Sir Lewis Hamilton. His perpetual drive to push for equality, diversity and inclusion has been way more significant than people might realize. A few years back, you would have a hard time spotting a woman in an F1 team, but now, by virtue of his off track work and platforms, seeing a female engineer does not seem like such a hard thing to grasp. On this precise note, it is no wonder that Lewis Hamilton and Naomi Schiff’s interview for Sky Sports F1 has touched some historic grounds. The interview made headlines all over the internet and the reactions have been nothing but priceless. People seem to acknowledge more and more the impact that Lewis is having, not only on the sport itself, but also outside it. His passion for the sport has made him more powerful in a sense that he can use his voice through his platforms, to spark conversations and leave an indelible mark on the motorsport industry and beyond.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of SilverArrows.Net.
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