Lewis Hamilton urged to make diversity in Formula One his legacy

Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes interacts with fans before this year's Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne. Picture: Charles Coates/Getty
Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes interacts with fans before this year's Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne. Picture: Charles Coates/Getty
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Lewis Hamilton has been urged to complete his Formula One legacy by working alongside motor racing’s UK governing body to improve diversity in the sport.

Hamilton, who will arrive in Bahrain for round two of his world championship defence on Wednesday, remains F1’s first and only black driver.

The 34-year-old British star has spoken about the absence of diversity in F1’s predominantly white-male dominated world.

On Tuesday, he tweeted in support of the England’s footballers who were subjected to racial abuse in Montenegro.

“What you [England] faced with the chants was despicable,” he wrote. “Completely unacceptable [and] no room for this behaviour in any sport.”

David Richards, chairman for Motorsport UK, believes the weight of Hamilton’s name in supporting its initiative aimed at increasing participation from wider social demographics, will prove a huge boost in changing the sport’s landscape.

“We are talking with Lewis and we have had discussions of that nature,” said Richards.

“I am sure in future years that Lewis is going to be a great ambassador for us in helping to attract and appeal to disadvantaged children in inner cities, who may kick a football around, but the last thing they would ever dream of being able to do is drive a racing car.

“We have got to make opportunities available for people like that. I hope Lewis will be supportive of the initiative.”

Richards, the former F1 team boss who will be in Bahrain this weekend, added: “It is early days, and Lewis’ priority is to win a couple more world championships, but I am quite certain that he will be looking for a legacy.

“I hope that will be by assisting us to expand the grassroots level and footprint of motorsport into areas where we haven’t been in the past.”

At last year’s Australian Grand Prix, Hamilton, who was raised in a Stevenage council house, addressed the ethnic issues facing F1.

In an Instagram post he wrote: “There’s barely any diversity in F1. Nothing has changed in the 11 years I’ve been here.”

And on the eve of the new campaign, Hamilton again reiterated his interest in improving diversity. He said: “What’s driving me right now is to continue to push for diversity, to push for change.

“Not only in my sport but also in the world and encouraging people in general but naturally youngsters who are up and coming and have dreams. I want to encourage them to dream big and really put it out there in the universe. I’ve got to make sure that I keep pushing, keep evolving, keep driving.”

Hamilton will be looking to open his winning account in Bahrain on Sunday.

He trails Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas in the standings following the Finn’s victory at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix earlier this month.