Sir Lewis Hamilton, arguably the greatest Formula One driver of all time, has battled through prejudice and adversity on his way to the top, making a difference for all those under-privileged and under-represented within society.
Not only is he a record breaker and trailblazer, but he is an incredible person who does so much for charity to help drive a more diverse environment and society that offers equal opportunities to everyone, regardless of background.
On his journey to the top of a sport that has often had closed doors to those from working class backgrounds, he battled through the prejudice, being a black man from a poor family, many felt he was out of place in Formula One.
He got there thanks to his dad, Anthony Hamilton, working around the clock and taking out a second mortgage on his house to fund Hamilton’s dream.
Talking about his journey to Vanity Fair, Hamilton said: “I didn’t feel like I was welcome. I didn’t feel like I was accepted. God knows how many of these drivers say: ‘This is not what a Formula 1 driver is. That’s not how you behave. This is not how you do it. Tattoos? No! A Formula 1 driver doesn’t have tattoos! A Formula 1 driver doesn’t have a personality—and piercings!’”
The Brit took no notice of these archaic views, fighting his way to the top of the sport and becoming probably the largest British athlete of all time, globally renowned for his incredible ability and philanthropy.
Last season, he was agonisingly close to a record breaking eighth world title. He had done all the hard work until a controversial interpretation of the rules from Michael Masi gifted Max Verstappen the title it seemed Hamilton had won.
He has since resigned and was reportedly made to sign a non-disclosure agreement, sparking even more outrage from fans of Hamilton.
He opened up about how he felt in the car at the end of the race he said was ‘manipulated,’ stating: “I don’t know if I can really put into words the feeling that I had. I do remember just sitting there just in disbelief. And realising I’ve got to undo my belts, I’ve got to get out of there, I’ve got to climb out of this thing, I’ve got to find the strength. I had no strength. And it was one of the toughest moments, I would say, that I’ve had in a long, long time.”
Vanity Fair then posed the thought that he must have felt cheated out of that world title he had two hands firmly on, replying: “I knew what had happened. I knew what decisions had been made and why. Yes, I knew that something wasn’t right.”
The magazine themselves referred to it as: “The shocker that cost him a championship.” So they’re clearly not holding back on their opinion of the controversial finale to the 2021 season.
We’ve seen Hamilton take a stand on social injustices and racial abuse on his social media and at the circuits on race weekends with his t-shirts delivering important messages. He opened up about why he feels compelled to help people: “I’ve always wondered: Why me? Why am I the only? Out of all the kids in the school, or all the other young Black kids in Black communities, how is it us that stumbled across it and got into it? And not only got in there, but why am I as good as I am? Why am I wired the way I am? And I feel like there’s a much bigger picture.”
Being arguably the most well-known black athlete in the world competing in an inherently closed world in Formula One, he clearly felt he was put there to serve a purpose and help those without the platform he has.
After that, he spoke profoundly about the abhorrent abuse he received throughout his career on his way to Formula One: “There’s a lot of feelings that I suppressed at the time that I didn’t even realise that I suppressed—emotions and feelings that I had when I was younger—and it all came up. There was a lot of the N-word going around.”
He admitted that the abuse was worse in Italy and France when he was competing in his karting days as a young child. After that he talked about a time when he was around 11 or 12, buying some cakes from the shop when he was attacked by a father and son who floored him, kicked him and shouted: “Go back to your country.”
Hamilton said: “Even today, I remember how terrifying it was. I really, really couldn’t understand it. It was like, ‘Are they talking to me? I’m from here. What do they mean?’ I could never understand it. When you’re being attacked, there’s this fear—there’s fear, and there’s anger as well because you want to get them back for the pain that they’re causing you.”
The Brit revealed that he was too scared to tell his dad about the incident because he didn’t want to be seen as a wuss and just went to his room in tears.
Sir Lewis Hamilton is a role model to everyone out there. Standing up for what he believes in and doing his part to ensure there’s a level playing field in the world and no one is discriminated against and has equal opportunities.