Lewis Hamilton has revealed that he had a chat with Mercedes boss Toto Wolff that "hit him hard" and had lasting ramifications for the team principal.
The Briton has been one of the most vocal drivers on the grid about political and social issues around the world — especially around race issues and LGBTQ+ rights. He has played an instrumental role in encouraging people of color to take up motorsports.
The seven-time Formula 1 champion's conversation with Wolff centered around race, specifically inclusivity and diversity. He said (via GP Fans):
"One of the things he brings up that he said hit him hard. I said, 'Have you ever thought of, as a white person walking into the race weekend paddock, and being the only white person there?'. He's like, 'I hadn't even thought of that'. And I said, 'Well, that's what it's like, for someone like me, when I'm in the room'."
The 38-year-old added:
"You notice that out of 50 people in a meeting, you're the only person who (is a) black person there. And it's not because we are less, it's because there are these barriers within society through education, that are limiting people to be the best they can be. So my job is to be empowering and improving representation."
Lewis Hamilton has led multiple initiatives to increase representation, with Ignite and Mission 44 being two of them. He also set up the Hamilton Commission to increase representation of Black people in UK motorsport.
"My whole life flashed before my eyes on that last lap" - Lewis Hamilton takes pride in his 2020 F1 championship
Lewis Hamilton has won seven F1 titles to date, with his first coming in extraordinary circumstances in 2008 as a McLaren driver. He beat Scuderia Ferrari's Felipe Massa to the title by one point that year, sealing the championship with an overtake on Toyota's Timo Glock in the final corner of the final race of the season.
Since then, he has added six more titles to his trophy cabinet after moving to Mercedes. But the 2020 win remains Lewis Hamilton's most cherished victory. That year, the team switched to a black livery in a move Toto Wolff said was designed to promote “respect and equality… [and] to show our commitment to greater diversity within our team and our sport”.
Speaking about the 2020 F1 season, Lewis Hamilton said:
"We changed the car from silver to black in 2020. Again, I said to them, 'The cars been silver forever. It's always been Silver Arrows. Imagine if we change the car to black? Us turning up and arriving is how you show up and arriving, imagine the message we can send'. So we had the black car for the whole year and we didn't even really talk much about it, we just let it be. And we won with it and that's when I won my seventh world title with that car."
"My whole life flashed before my eyes on that last lap, in Turkey. My whole life, all the struggles, the questioning whether you were going to make it or not – just all those doubts or the fears, kind of flashed by me, through my eyes, and I came across the line. And I was like, 'I did it'."