Formula 1 boss Ross Brawn has offered his full support to Lewis Hamilton, backing his calls to address worldwide racial injustice.
After Hamilton called on his sport to do more on the issue in an Instagram post last week, Brawn has now spoken up and pledged to help address the lack of diversity in motorsport.
“Lewis is a great ambassador for the sport, and I think his comments are very valid,” he told Sky Sports F1. “We support him completely.
“We as F1 have recognised for a few years now that we want to strengthen our diversity programme and both internally as a company and externally, we started work on this a few years ago.
“Our thoughts were that the reason why we don’t have more diversity in Formula 1 starts at grassroots level, it even starts in schools with the appeal for STEM topics – science, technology, engineering and maths. How can we get involved in that?
“We’ve been involved in F1 in Schools, we have always supported it, but we became far more involved in the last year or two, and that has a very strong diversity in terms of the kids who get involved in it.
“Forty per cent of the kids who get involved in F1 in Schools are girls, so that’s a good start. And it’s an international competition, so we get competitors from all groups.”
As to the question of what more can be done to improve diversity in the sport, Brawn revealed several initiatives F1 is working on, including providing financial support to those who need it.
“We’re looking very strongly at how we can support grassroots racing level. I’ve spent the last weeks and months working with a group to look how we can have a really, really basic karting initiative to get kids involved in karting at a very early stage.”
“The fact is Formula 1 is a very strong meritocracy, it should always be that way. It should always be the best who win – and we can’t force that. But we can give greater opportunity to minority and ethnic groups to get involved in motorsport.
“Not just driving, but engineering and other activities. That’s where we are with Formula 1.
“We’ve got a lot of initiatives in terms of gender pay gap, and we’re looking at other pay gaps within our companies and making sure we’re doing everything we can.
“I think Formula 1 is helping and I think you will see with some of these karting initiatives we’ve been working on that that will be a great opportunity and Formula 1 will support it.
“We support totally what Lewis has said. What happened was dreadful, it happens far too often, and I think we have seen the public reaction to it. It’s almost the straw that broke the camel’s back, and we support him totally.”