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"I remember the looks that we got" - Lewis Hamilton recalls days spent karting and dealing with adversity

F1 70th Anniversary Grand Prix
F1 70th Anniversary Grand Prix

Born into a mixed-race working-class family, Lewis Hamilton took an unconventional route to the top-flight of motorsports.

While his father Anthony Hamilton worked three jobs to support Lewis' motorsport career, the latter – being the only black kid racing amongst mostly white children from well-off families – had to endure abuse and negativity from his fellow racers.

“I do remember the looks that we got, particularly from kids. The negative kind of comments again, but I experienced that through school. I never fully understood it, and I never really asked my parents about it. What does that mean? But when we were at these kart races, my dad just said, 'Do your talking on the track.' So, we'll stay quiet. We'll take the insults, we'll take that negative energy and we'd tie it into positivity, and we would win those races. And when we would leave after winning these races, it was the greatest feeling.”
this … so proud 🥺❤️ he never responded to hate with hate. You're a role model, @LewisHamilton https://t.co/XquCBOq0AF

Lewis Hamilton channels abuse and negativity towards his goal of achieving greater diversity in F1

Lewis Hamilton's entry into F1 and winning races as a rookie subjected him to intense racial abuse.

Back in 2008, during Lewis Hamilton’s first championship-winning year, several F1 fans showed up to the Spanish Grand Prix wearing blackface and t-shirts that read “Hamilton’s Family”. In the past few years, Lewis Hamilton has expressed his sadness at those events.

In recent years, fans spewing hate towards the seven-time world champion on social media has become a daily occurrence. However, Hamilton has shrugged off the hate and negativity to instead focus on his efforts to achieve greater diversity in F1 and motorsport in general.

“I think the important part of the message is no matter what you're going through, there is a way of turning that negativity or that aggression, whatever it may be, into a positive channel and focusing on what you love. I think that's why I'm able to drive the way I drive today. Because I have that at the core of me. And it's crazy because I've been racing for 28 years and it's still at the core of who I am today. And I'm grateful because it enables me to still shine when I'm on track.”

Last year, Lewis Hamilton set up the “Hamilton Commission” to research ways to make motorsport more diverse, complex, and multicultural. The commission has since submitted its findings to F1, FIA, and all ten F1 teams.

An outspoken supporter of black and minority rights, Lewis Hamilton has been sporting a crash helmet with a “rainbow design” since the Qatar Grand Prix. The helmet showed his support to the LGBTIQA+ community in defiance of the laws in Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

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Edited by Anurag C
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