Lewis Hamilton Calls Out Formula One Community

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Lewis Hamilton has warned Formula One is blighted by "institutional barriers", revealing he has never been able to escape racism as he declared the sport must change its ways.

The six-time world champion said the death of George Floyd in police custody in the United States, which left him feeling "deep pain, anguish and frustration", only served to confirm in his mind the inequalities that exist throughout society.

Hamilton said racism "is only too familiar to me", and remarked that in his native United Kingdom there is often plenty of noise about racial abuse in sport but those with real power to implement change "stay silent" and fail to take the required action.

The Mercedes driver has criticized the F1 community in recent weeks for not speaking out enough about Floyd, and he has now shone a light on the hostility he has repeatedly felt as a black man in motorsport.

He wrote in the Sunday Times: "I've been fighting the stigma of racism throughout my racing career - from kids throwing things at me while karting, to being taunted by fans in black face at a 2007 grand prix, one of my first Formula One races."

Hamilton says he has come to expect little support when he complains of racism in motorsport, citing the fact so few in the business can understand what he experiences.

"The unchanged make-up of the F1 community throughout my career makes it feel like only a certain type of person is truly welcome in this sport, one who looks a certain way, comes from a certain background, fits a particular mold and plays by certain unwritten rules," Hamilton said.

"Even now, the media ask me different questions than they do my competitors and make accusations directly and indirectly – you're not British enough, not humble enough, not loved enough by the public."

He added: "Despite my success in the sport, the institutional barriers that have kept F1 highly exclusive persist. It is not enough to point to me, or to a single new black hire, as a meaningful example of progress. Thousands of people are employed across this industry and that group needs to be more representative of society."

Hamilton, 35, was born and raised in Stevenage, north of London, and has seen Black Lives Matter demonstrations in the UK and across the globe lead to fresh debate, exposing prejudices in places but also leading to a groundswell of support from across communities.

He says youngsters should not be taught "an edited, glorified version of our past" and revealed he has been working with the Royal Academy of Engineering to create The Hamilton Commission, looking at how more young people from black backgrounds can be brought into motorsport or employed elsewhere in the field of engineering.

Mercedes star Hamilton says he wants his legacy to be not just that of a champion, but of someone who helped to foster "a more equal society through education".

It is his ambition, he stressed, to make motorsport "as diverse as the complex and multicultural world we live in".