Canadian Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton aims to increase diversity in Formula 1

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer
Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton has won the Canadian Grand Prix six times

World champion Lewis Hamilton says he would like part of his legacy to be increasing diversity in Formula 1.

Hamilton grew up on a council estate and is F1's first black driver and says he "wants to pave the way for drivers from a similar background to myself".

He said he hoped to get involved in reducing costs in junior motorsport and in increasing the sport's social and racial mix.

"I want to have people say I was a part of shifting that," Hamilton said.

"That means getting involved in go-karting. It is so expensive in go-karts now.

"My dad told me he spent £20,000 in the first year I raced but today to do a professional season of go-karts is $200,000-300,000. I want to be a part of shifting that.

"Also to shift the diversity because there is the most minimal diversity and I want to be a part of changing that working with F1 and [governing body] the FIA.

"I don't know why there aren't more mechanics or engineers, or even [people] in the media, coming through with more diversity."

Making up with his father

Hamilton, speaking in a news conference before this weekend's Canadian Grand Prix, also talked about his improving relationship with his father, Anthony.

Hamilton's father was his manager from the start of his career until their professional relationship ended over a dispute in the early years of this decade. They had a difficult time for a while but have grown close again in recent years.

Hamilton said: "The relationship's fantastic now. It wasn't always great but that happens in families.

"I had my first Christmas with my whole family this year. There has been massive growth in the family and between me and my dad.

"We were out partying until the early hours for his birthday in London the other day. Sometimes it just takes time to grow and come back in relationships.

"As you get older, you realise how precious time is. I have friends who don't have their dads any more or who didn't speak to them in 20-30 years and I don't want that to happen.

"My dad is the greatest man I know and someone I aspire to be like and I want him to be around a long time and that is why I am pushing him to go in the gym."

Expecting a challenge from Ferrari

Hamilton, who is leading the championship by 17 points heading into the weekend, said he believed Ferrari would pose a tougher challenge in Montreal this weekend.

Mercedes have won all six races so far this year, with Hamilton taking four victories and team-mate Valtteri Bottas two.

But the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve's long straights could boost Ferrari, who have the most powerful engine and a car with less downforce and drag than the Mercedes.

"I expect Ferrari will be really strong this weekend with the long straight so I am excited about that fight," Hamilton said.

"I wouldn't say I was more nervous. Honda have picked up their pace. They are strong on the straights this year. So the Red Bull should be strong and the Ferrari is the quickest car in a straight line all year long in the past races.

"We have managed to catch them up in the corners but whether that will be the case this weekend time will tell. I hope it's really close between us all."

Sebastian Vettel
Sebastian Vettel's second-place finish in Monaco was the first time this season where Mercedes had not been first and second

Vettel, who is 45 points behind Hamilton in the championship, said: "I can't make any predictions, but on paper it looks a bit more promising, so more towards Bahrain (where Ferrari set the pace).

"On the other hand the asphalt is very smooth, it will be difficult to get the tyres up to working temperature. We've been struggling with that the last couple of races.

"I'm not sitting here and painting things black - we haven't done a single lap this weekend, so I'm quite optimistic, and it was a strong course for us last year. If we struggle, we have some tricks up our sleeve - whether they work or not, we will see."

Hamilton, though, will be boosted by an upgraded engine Mercedes are introducing on all the cars using their engine this weekend.

"The guys have been working really hard and it has not been the easiest or smoothest ride in terms of improving the engine," Hamilton said.

"We have had great reliability and it is always great when you have a new engine when it is fresh. This is a power circuit so it is the perfect time.

"It will have a slight improvement everywhere. It is not like the beginning of the hybrid era when we took massive steps but it is just small steps. The biggest step is that it is brand new. It is now small percentages but they are very much appreciated."

Hamilton, who has won the Canadian Grand Prix six out of the last 11 times it has been held, said he was looking forward to the weekend on what is one of his three favourite tracks.

"I love coming out to Montreal," he said. "The weather is often great, the circuit is fantastic and it is a track everyone agrees is one of the top three favourite circuits of the year.

"And the city is a big part of that - vibrant, great food, great turnout of fans. And the track is awesome, go-kart-esque, with long straights so you can overtake and you are throwing it over these massive kerbs and not massive run-off areas."

He said his other two favourite tracks were Silverstone, home of the British Grand Prix, and Austin's Circuit of the Americas, which holds the US Grand Prix.

Canadian Grand Prix coverage details
DateSessionTimeRadio coverageOnline text commentary
Friday, 7 JuneFirst practice15:00-16:30BBC Sport onlineFrom 14:30
Second Practice19:00-20:30BBC Sport onlineFrom 18:30
Saturday, 8 JuneThird practice16:00-17:00BBC Sport onlineFrom 15:30
Qualifying19:00-20:00BBC Sport onlineFrom 18:00
Sunday, 9 JuneRace19:00-21:00BBC Radio 5 LiveFrom 17:30
Monday, 10 JuneReview04:30-05:00BBC Radio 5 Live
Chequered Flag podcast: Canadian Grand Prix review - download here once the race has finished