The Hamilton Commission released a 184 page document earlier this month regarding diversity in motorsport. Breanna breaks down the report and what you need to know.
July 24, 2021
On July 13th, The Hamilton Commission, in partnership with the Royal Academy of Engineering, released their 184-page findings titled “Accelerating Change: Improving Representation of Black People in UK Motorsport” into the lack of Black and ethnic people involved in the motorsport industry.
Co-Chair of The Hamilton Commission, seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, expresses at the beginning of the report his new inspiration for increasing diversity in the sport that turned him into arguably the greatest driver of all time. As the singular Black driver on the grid, Hamilton has seen the lack of minorities up close and personal throughout the years around the paddock. Through this report, Hamilton is urging the FIA and other motorsport teams to take a step forward in increasing minorities’ involvement in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers.
The report is broken down into five separate chapters. Each touches on a different aspect of the mix of STEM education and motorsports in relation to Black and ethnic groups. Each chapter uses evidence and interviews to support one of the ten recommendations The Hamilton Commission is suggesting. The recommendations go over 3 different categories: support and empowerment, accountability and measurement, and inspiration and engagement. The commission has also outlined how each one of these recommendations can be introduced into pathways that lead to careers in motorsports in the UK.
Highlighted in the report are the various issues that push young Black and ethnic viewers away from having an interest or pursuing careers in the sport. The elitist culture surrounding F1 and other motorsports is an issue that prevents minorities from getting involved. As the sport is popularly dubbed “The Billionaires Boys Club” with multiple pay drivers sitting on the grid, many can see Black viewers hesitation with getting involved.
Another point the commission touched on is the consistent lack of Black students joining STEM programs and being chosen for apprenticeships. Issues like this stem back to primary school as, more often than not, Black students are not encouraged to explore STEM fields as they have no (or very few) role models to learn from. Almost half of all schools in England have no Black or ethnic teachers, considering nearly 45% identify as colored. This then leads right into Black students going to less prestigious universities and therefore losing almost all chances of reaching a career in motorsports.
A Black graduate has double the unemployment rate against white graduates and only makes up roughly 35% of engineering roles. Many of the interviewees in the report say that if engineering internships and apprenticeships were advertised to a larger group of universities, instead of pulling from the same few, it would help spread diversity throughout the industry. There are talented and intelligent individuals coming from all across the UK, and focusing on who fits in the tiny bubble they’ve created serves more harm than good.
Six of the ten F1 teams are listed in the report as having some sort of diversity and inclusion activities. There’s everything from Alpine launching the Infiniti Engineering Academy to Mclaren’s ten-year Sustainability Manifesto. The four teams left off the list are: Red Bull Racing, Scuderia Ferrari, Scuderia AlphaTauri, and Aston Martin F1. While a representative from Aston Martin said they were not approached by the commission to be included, the organization does have diversity policies in place. The other three teams remained silent on their whereabouts in conjunction with the report.
Although lengthy, the report done by The Hamilton Commission is both easy to digest and contains viable information. The ten recommendations the commission proposes to the motorsports industry about engineering and diversity are not too far-fetched. This report highlights so many of the issues that prevent Black people from advancing in STEM fields and industries alike. Hopefully, through this report, more companies will begin to take a different approach in handling these issues from now on and how to better support Black students in their educational journeys.
Lewis Hamilton’s dedication in turning his success on track to something tangible off is admirable for someone who was originally unwanted in the sport. His eagerness to uplift Black people in motorsport-related STEM fields cannot be overstated, and his influence on these issues off track will be remembered.
I recommend each and every motorsport fan read the full report, or at least the summary, to see some of the statistics and understand the challenges faced by people of color in predominantly white industries. For some, the results and claims made by the report may be seen as shocking, but for many others, the report showcases parts of their own everyday lives. I and many others hope to one day see F1 filled with a rainbow of skin colors and a place for everyone to feel welcome.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Breanna’s earliest memories of motorsports come from Kyle Busch and his M&M car. Currently, Breanna studies journalism at UNLV, where she one day plans to become a sports journalist/broadcaster in motorsports. Outside of school, you can usually find Breanna crocheting a new blanket or baking cookies.
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