Lewis Hamilton: Mike Wedderburn on interviewing F1 record-breaker and their hopes for change
In a Sky Sports News exclusive as part of Black History Month, Lewis Hamilton speaks in depth with Mike Wedderburn about his push to "have a sport that represents the outer world". Watch Lewis Hamilton: My Race across our Sky Sports platforms
By Mike Wedderburn
Last Updated: 31/10/20 11:56am
Mike Wedderburn is only the second black sports journalist to interview Lewis Hamilton. The Sky Sports News presenter opens up on his incredible meeting with Formula 1's record breaker...
Lewis Hamilton began karting in 1993 at the age of eight. He started in Formula 1 in 2007 and in 2008 won his first world championship.
He is now 35-years-old and in all that time he has been interviewed by one black sports journalist before me. It is the first thing that he said. If I had not been wearing a mask you would have seen my jaw drop. It is astonishing.
Imagine existing in a world where no one looks like you. That is Lewis Hamilton's world. The world of Formula 1. It is almost exclusively white. That is the team, the broadcasters, the written media. Hamilton stands alone, apart, above.
It would have been easy for him to let the struggle for racial justice and diversity be someone else's problem. He has a job that he loves and for which he gets loyally rewarded. But that is not Lewis.
He had to make a stand. He put his head and his fist above the parapet and let the haters hate because he has to do what he feels is right.
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That is to fight for people less fortunate than him. People without a voice. As the world has watched him win race after race, it has also had to watch his battle for his race.
We have seen the T-shirts demanding justice, the Black Lives Matter masks and the clenched fists reminiscent of John Carlos and Tommie Smith at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City.
He believes these gestures hit home and make a difference, but he has done more. He has marched. He joined the thousands in London demanding justice and equality and he's gone even further. He has set up the Hamilton Commission with that aim of recruiting young people into F1.
It will provide support for secondary school children and university students to study science and engineering and then enter the sport he loves.
George Floyd's killing hit Hamilton hard. Like millions around the world, he could not believe what he was seeing. It left him lost and adrift. He found he was being asked to explain what was happening. He was bombarded by white people wanting answers.
Thinking just because his skin is black he had them. Like for many of us, it was a difficult and confusing time.
His admiration of Muhammad Ali helped. Ali famously stood up for what he believed in. He was vilified, arrested, sentenced to jail and stripped of his boxing titles.
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But he stood firm in his fight for his people. A fight that is now recognised as brave and right. Expect Hamilton, like Ali, to be remembered long after he has taken his final chequered flag for the work he did that transcended his sport.
Lewis has tried for a long time to get his point across about how society in general and F1, in particular, must change, but he said nobody listened, nobody wanted to hear. Well, they are listening now.
Lewis is a fascinating interviewee. He is bright, articulate and funny. This is a topic that matters to him and he clearly wanted to talk about it so he was open and honest.
We have shared life experiences and we got on. To hear that I was only the second black journalist to interview him was heart-breaking. He will have spent an entire career being asked questions by people who he feels do not fully understand him.
Both he and I want to change that.
He is a great Briton. It was a pleasure to meet him.
Lewis Hamilton: My Race airs on Sky Sports F1 and Main Event over the weekend, and is available to watch on Sky Sports On Demand and YouTube.
Black History Month
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