F1 chief Ross Brawn backs Lewis Hamilton and explains equality push
F1's managing director speaks to Sky Sports in support of Lewis Hamilton and explains what the sport is doing and will do to improve diversity; Hamilton calls on governments to peacefully remove all racist symbols
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 11/06/20 2:59pm
Ross Brawn says Formula 1 fully supports Lewis Hamilton's comments on racism and diversity and says the sport is working on ways to provide greater opportunities for all to get into motorsport.
Hamilton, F1's six-time champion and the grid's only black driver, has long posted passionately on social media speaking out against racism and calling for greater equality in the sport.
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In the wake of the death of George Floyd in the United States, Hamilton called on the F1 community to speak out. His message prompted several drivers and the sport itself to issue anti-racism messages.
Brawn, who was Hamilton's first team boss when he joined Mercedes and now plays a leading role in F1 as its managing director of motorsports, said F1 was fully behind its leading driver.
"Lewis is a great ambassador for the sport and his comments are very valid," said Brawn on The F1 Show.
"We support him completely."
Hamilton has continued to post powerful messages on social media and on Monday called for governments to remove all racist symbols, after protestors in Bristol tore down the statue of Edward Colston on Sunday.
How can F1 become more diverse?
Brawn said F1 was aware it needed to improve diversity across the sport and said creating greater opportunities at grassroots level - for young drivers, engineers and other potential roles - was at the heart of the required change.
"We are F1 have recognised for a few years now that we want to strengthen our diversity and our diversity programme. Both internally as a company, and externally, we started work on this a few years ago," explained Brawn.
"Our thoughts were that the reasons why we don't have more diversity in Formula 1 it starts at the very beginning. It starts at grassroots level. It even starts in the schools with the STEM topics - science, technology, engineering and maths. How can we be involved in that?
"We have been involved in Formula 1 in Schools. We've always supported it but we have gotten far more involved in the last year or two and that has a very strong diversity in terms of the kids that get involved. Forty per cent of the kids that get involved in Formula 1 in Schools are girls, so that's a good start. And it's an international competition, so we get competitors from all groups.
"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."
Brawn added: "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 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."
Hamilton's powerful message
Speaking with passion in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and peaceful protests, Hamilton has called on governments to remove racist symbols.
The Briton posted on Instagram after protestors tore down the statue of Edward Colston, a 17th-century slave trader, in Bristol.
"I challenge government officials worldwide to make these changes and implement the peaceful removal of these racist symbols," wrote Hamilton on Instagram.
Hamilton said the statue in Bristol should be replaced with a memorial for those who lost their lives in the slave trade.