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Lewis Hamilton says his F1 career has been ‘quite a lonely journey’

Lewis Hamilton says his 16-year Formula One career has been ‘genuinely quite a lonely journey’ as the Mercedes star spoke about the lack of diversity within the sport. 

The seven-time world champion, who is the only black driver in F1, appeared on Good Morning America on Monday in New York, with the 37-year-old in the United States ahead of the Miami Grand Prix this weekend. 

It is F1’s first visit to Miami and alongside speaking about F1’s ‘booming’ popularity stateside, Hamilton spoke about his mission to improve diversity within the sport with the Hamilton Commission, set up in 2020.   

‘It’s been genuinely quite a lonely journey,’ he said on the popular ABC show. 

‘Me and my family were the only black family. I’ve been racing 29 years, I’m 37 now. But I’ve been professional for 16 years and always most often being the only person of colour in the room. 

‘And when I asked the question there was no real great feedback answer to that question so I put together the Hamilton Commission because it starts with education and understanding.’

The seven-time world champion, who is the only black driver in the sport, appeared on Good Morning America on Monday in New York

Lewis Hamilton says his 16-year Formula One career has been ‘genuinely quite a lonely journey’ while appearing on Good Morning America (right) 

The Brit, F1's only black driver, set up the Hamilton Commission in 2020 to 'improve the representation of Black people in UK motorsport'

The Brit, F1’s only black driver, set up the Hamilton Commission in 2020 to ‘improve the representation of Black people in UK motorsport’

The Hamilton Commission was set up to ‘improve the representation of Black people in UK motorsport.’ 

Hamilton holds the record for most wins and pole positions but none of the drivers who have followed him into the sport are black

Hamilton holds the record for most wins and pole positions but none of the drivers who have followed him into the sport are black

Hamilton has previously opened up on his own painful experiences with racism in the sport and on Monday he explained how diversity is still a problem within Formula One.

‘We put together this body of research to try and understand what those barriers are,’ Hamilton continued on GMA. 

‘We found there are not only in our industry where we have over 40,000 jobs but only one per cent come from black backgrounds, but there are real systemic issues within the educational system as well. 

‘With the Hamilton Commission we’ve now started mission 44 which I’ve funded myself to try and create more representation, support and empowerment for these young under-served groups.’

Mission 44, with Hamilton pledging £20m, will support ‘organisations and programmes that narrow the gap in employment and education systems, through partnerships, collaborations, grant giving and advocacy’. 

Last October, in an interview with WSJ magazine, Hamilton said he was left ‘frustrated and sad’ when the jarring realisation that nothing had changed hit him at the end of the 2019 season. 

Looking at a photo of him and his team celebrating his sixth straight title, he realised that despite all those seasons he spent trailblazing, he was still the only black person. 

The 2019 photo of Hamilton's team highlighted that he was one of the only black members of his team; a study showed that less than 1 per cent of people working in Formula One are black

The 2019 photo of Hamilton’s team highlighted that he was one of the only black members of his team; a study showed that less than 1 per cent of people working in Formula One are black

‘I zoomed in on them, from the F1 Instagram,’ he said. ‘I’ve been here 15 years, 14 years – how has it not changed? I was really sad about it. I was frustrated and sad.’ 

‘I’m 36 years old; I’ve been wondering, “Why me?” Why am I the only black driver that’s got through to Formula One, and not only that – I’m at the front? There’s got to be a bigger reason for me being here.’ 

Hamilton also recalled that in 2008 Spanish Formula One fans showed up in blackface while wearing shirts that read ‘Hamilton’s Family,’ before trying to claim that blackface and offensive T-shirts somehow weren’t racist. 

‘I remember the pain that I felt that day, but I didn’t say anything about it; I didn’t have anyone,’ he said. ‘No one said anything.

‘I saw people continuing in my industry and staying quiet.’ 

Some Spanish F1 fans turned up to an event in blackface and 'Hamilton's family' T-shirts in 2008

Some Spanish F1 fans turned up to an event in blackface and ‘Hamilton’s family’ T-shirts in 2008

Hamilton partnered with the Royal Academy of Engineering, who released a report in July 2021 which revealed that less than 1 per cent of people working in Formula One are black. 

Meanwhile on the track, Hamilton comes into the fifth race of the 2022 season down in seventh place in the World Championship Standings, with Mercedes on the back-foot following new regulations this season. 

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc leads the way, with 2021 world champion Max Verstappen in second 27 points further back.  

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Read more at DailyMail.co.uk