Lewis Hamilton: 1Xtra's Future Figures 2021 for Black History Month

lewis hamilton

"We all bleed the same blood, we all need the same opportunities. Right now there are 40,000 jobs within the motorsport industry and only 1% are from black backgrounds."

Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton is one of 29 'Future Figures' chosen by Radio 1Xtra to celebrate Black History Month.

The series aims to highlight individuals, groups and organisations who are "making Black history now".

Hamilton is one of the greatest F1 drivers of all time. In 2020 he equalled Michael Schumacher's world championship record of seven titles, then in September he became the first F1 driver to reach 100 career victories by winning the Russian Grand Prix.

But the 36-year-old doesn't want to just be known for his achievements on the track; he also wants to be seen as a figurehead in the fight for racial equality.

"I've never wanted to be remembered as a racing driver. I don't want to be remembered just for that. It's all good if people remember me being a good driver but I think my time here is really about impacting and helping people," he says.

Hamilton took the knee after George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis in 2020 and brought black designers with him to the Met Gala to raise awareness and support their work.

He set up the Hamilton Commission to tackle inequality in motorsport. He has also launched a new charitable commission called Mission 44, which aims to donate £20m over the next few years to help children from underrepresented backgrounds.

And he has launched a scheme that aims to boost the recruitment of black teachers in science, technology and maths (STEM) subjects.

"I put together this commission to really find out what those barriers are so we can really tackle them," he adds. "We can get people together and take them on a journey, really pushing and making the sport look more like the outside world.

"What's close to my heart is the black community because that's obviously my background. That's why we have focused the Hamilton Commission on that."

Hamilton says it's important to get children studying STEM subjects at an early age to increase diversity in the sport.

"A lot of students - particularly black students - are less likely to take up triple science. That's part of the studies [to be an F1 engineer].

"Engineering is not just about being that engineer who works alongside me. There are literally thousands of jobs within this industry that are super exciting and well paid and great opportunities.

"That's why we have to encourage young people to start pursuing STEM subjects from an early age."

Read more from BBC Sport in Black History Month - 'The sporting heroes who changed our lives'

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