While the UK is home to seven of the ten Formula 1 teams, hosts various rounds of Formula 1 World Championship and World Rally Championship races, and is supported by more than 4000 companies, there are clear issues with racial diversity across the motorsport industry. Despite around 40,000 UK employees – including managers, engineers and technicians – the recently published Hamilton Commission report estimates that less than 1% of those employed across the motorsport sector are black.
With the launch of Formula 1’s #WeRaceAsOne campaign, The Hamilton Commission – led by high-profile F1 driver Lewis Hamilton – was set up to better understand the racial barriers currently being experienced in motorsport careers, with an aim to drastically improve motorsport diversity and accessibility.
Many of the issues highlighted in their research came down to lack of representation and engagement for young black children seeking to pursue STEM careers, and the difficulties faced within minority groups due to geographical location and/or socio-economic barriers, such as being able to travel to work placements or apprenticeships in the industry.
The high expense of machinery and equipment needed to partake in the sport also leads to strong access limitations on poorer segments of society, while educational and recruitment aspects are the leading the issues relating to low access to STEM-based career opportunities for black youth.
The Hamilton Commission report suggests three core categories for improving racial diversity in motorsport:
Support & Empowerment
Working with Formula 1 teams, motorsport companies and sponsors to increase accessibility and support career progression through apprenticeships, work placements and graduate schemes that consider geographic and socio-economic barriers, and address systemic issues of black exclusion in educational institutions and workplaces.
Accountability & Measurement
Promoting the adoption of the National Education Union Anti-Racism Charter framework in schools UK-wide, implementing a Diversity & Inclusion Charter in all companies within the motorsport sector, and committing to increased accountability (including data transparency relating to diversity characteristics).
Inspiration & Engagement
Encouraging inclusive engagement across STEM outreach activities, providing additional guidance and support led by black community groups and organisations for young black children to feel supported and empowered as they embark on careers as scientists and engineers, offering practical activities and support materials.
There are many ways in which these goals can reasonably be achieved to further racial diversity in Formula 1 and the motorsport sector as whole, with the Hamilton report going to great lengths to outline recommendations for each category based on their research. What is clear is that while there are sufficient means within this multi-million pound industry to remove racial barriers and increase levels of diversity, action must be taken on a multi-functional level, from schools and universities to manufacturers, sponsors and teams, if these objectives are to be met, for the benefit of all.