Six-Time Formula One™ World Champion, Lewis Hamilton MBE HonFREng

Seven-Time Formula One™ World Champion, Sir @LewisHamilton and the Royal Academy of Engineering (@RAEngNews) today (13 Jul) publish The Hamilton Commission report, Accelerating Change: Improving Representation of Black People in UK Motorsport.

  • Sir Lewis Hamilton MBE HonFREng and the Royal Academy of Engineering conclude ten months of research into how to improve the representation of Black people within UK motorsport
  • Report identifies barriers to entry including lack of Black role models in STEM teaching positions, and hiring practices within motorsport teams that favour students from a select group of high-ranking universities
  • Ten recommendations made including F1 teams implementing a D&I charter, and piloting approaches to increase the number of Black teachers in STEM subjects

The Commission, which conducted its research over a period of ten months, set out to identify the key barriers to the recruitment and progression of Black people in UK motorsport. The research specifically focused on engineering positions within the industry, as they represent a major group of occupations and offer the biggest opportunity for change. Now, through its report, the Commission has provided ten recommendations which aim to address the issues limiting Black students’ progression into engineering careers, as well as barriers within the motorsport industry.

The report research, led by the Royal Academy of Engineering, covered initial data analysis, stakeholder mapping, a literature review in sport, education and employment, as well as in-depth surveying and analysis with youth focus groups and key stakeholders. As a result of this detailed research, an evidence-based report has been crafted which includes chapters exploring Formula 1 and the UK motorsport sector, young Black people’s interest in engineering and motorsport, and the attainment and progression of young Black students in STEM subjects at school, in post-16 education and in higher education leading to motorsport jobs. The Commission, which was co-Chaired by Lewis and Royal Academy of Engineering CEO, Dr Hayaatun Sillem CBE, also engaged a 14-strong Board of Commissioners from relevant fields including motorsport, politics, education and engineering, who have each helped to inform and shape the report and its findings.

The Commission was launched in June 2020, as a result of Lewis’ ambition to see more people like himself employed within the motorsport industry. Throughout his career as the only Black driver within Formula 1, Lewis hoped that his success would inspire other diverse talent to pursue a career in motorsport. However, that hasn’t been the case, and when reviewing the lack of representation within the end-of-season photo in 2019, Lewis was spurred to take action and proactively change the industry himself. It was then that he engaged the Royal Academy of Engineering to conduct the necessary research into the barriers preventing Black talent from entering the industry and how these barriers could be addressed.

The Commission’s research has focused on the talent pipeline for Black students entering motorsport via engineering, due to the specific challenges they face as a result of their race. These challenges are also reflective of Lewis’ own experiences within school and the motorsport industry. Factors within wider society, some of which are systemic in nature, as well as practices within Formula 1 have been identified as contributing towards a situation in which only 1% employees in Formula 1 are from Black backgrounds. These factors include but are not limited to:

  • Hiring practices within motorsport teams that favour students from a select group of high-ranking universities, which many of the existing engineers and recruiting managers also graduated from.
  • Geographical factors, which mean opportunities for work experience at places such as Silverstone are too far to travel for students from Black communities in cities and other young people from low-income backgrounds.
  • Lower expectations of Black students’ academic abilities leading to lower entries to STEM subjects, such as triple science GCSE - which is often required in order to take STEM subjects at A-Level
  • Behaviour management practices in schools that disproportionately affect Black students, including the disproportionately high incidence of temporary and permanent exclusions of young Black Caribbean and mixed White and Black Caribbean ethnicity students
  • The lack of Black role models in STEM teaching positions throughout a student’s educational career, including in higher education
  • A lack of understanding among young people of the careers that studying engineering can lead to, and a feeling among Black students that motorsport ‘wasn’t for them’.

To help shape the recommendations selected, The Hamilton Commission has identified three strands of action that need to be addressed in order to achieve industry wide change. These strands of action comprise:

  • Support and empowerment – engendering a sense of agency among young Black people and supporting progression to engineering careers.
  • Accountability and measurement – accountability of those in authority, evidenced through consistent collection and sharing of data.
  • Inspiration and engagement – enabling young Black people to visualise what these careers involve and see themselves in these roles.

The Commission has identified ten recommendations addressing these strands, which it believes will have long-lasting and positive impact on the motorsport industry and encourage more young Black students to pursue subjects which lead to careers in engineering. These recommendations include;

  • Asking that Formula 1 teams (and other Motorsports organisations) take the lead in implementing a Diversity and Inclusion Charter for motorsport to commit the sector to improve diversity and inclusion across all organisations;
  • Calling for Formula 1 teams and other motorsport businesses to broaden access to motorsport by expanding the apprenticeships provision to include higher apprenticeships and degree apprenticeships as an alternate pathway into the sector, as well as availability to paid work placement and work experience schemes;
  • Establishment of a new exclusions innovation fund, to develop programmes that address the factors that contribute to the high proportion of students from Black backgrounds being excluded from schools;
  • Supporting the piloting of new approaches to increase the number of Black teachers in STEM subjects that lead to careers in engineering, namely mathematics, physics, design and technology, and computing;
  • Supporting the creation of scholarship programmes to enable Black graduates from degrees in engineering and allied subjects to progress into specialist motorsport roles;
  • Calling for additional STEM activity support to be provided to supplementary schools led by Black community groups across the UK.
  • The report, including the full list of recommendations can be accessed via The Hamilton Commission website.

The Commission report serves as the first step in Lewis’ long-term ambition to create tangible change within the industry. The Commission’s research and recommendations have provided him with the insight he was seeking and Lewis has personally committed to carrying forward a number of recommendations through his philanthropic endeavours and will also be working with his team and the wider motorsport industry, as well as third party charities and organisations, to ensure all recommendations are implemented.

Lewis Hamilton says:

Given the right opportunities and support, young people can excel at whatever they put their minds to, but our research shows that many young Black people are being closed out of opportunities within STEM and having their full potential limited. While I have enjoyed a successful career in motorsport, it’s been a lonely path as one of the few Black individuals within Formula 1 and, after fifteen years of waiting for the industry to catch up, I realised I had to take action myself.

“In order to do that, I needed to understand what was preventing the industry from being as diverse as the world around it. Through the Commission’s research, we can see there are clear meaningful steps the motorsport industry needs to take towards creating a more inclusive environment where diversity can thrive but also that we must tackle the barriers facing Black students that exist throughout their educational journey. Some of these barriers I recognise from my own experiences, but our findings have opened my eyes to just how far reaching these problems are. Now that I’m armed with the Commission’s recommendations, I am personally committed to ensuring they are put into action. I’m so proud of our work to date, but this is really just the beginning.”

Dr. Hayaatun Sillem says:

“The Academy has been leading a Diversity and Inclusion programme for the last decade to address the diversity deficit in engineering, and while some positive progress has been made, it remains a source of great concern that only 9% of UK professional engineers are from Black or minority ethnic backgrounds and only 14.5% are women. We were therefore delighted to be part of The Hamilton Commission and to work with Lewis to investigate the specific barriers faced by Black people looking to pursue a career in motorsport and the STEM pathways that lead to it. Engineers shape the world around us - enhancing almost every aspect of our everyday lives from the sport and entertainment we enjoy, to technologies that keep us connected to our family and friends - and it is therefore imperative that they better reflect the diversity of the society they serve and that engineering careers are open to all. The ten recommendations in the Hamilton Commission report are targeted at making that a reality for motorsport – a highly visible sector that depends critically on a technical workforce – and we look forward to working with Lewis and our partners to accelerate the pace of change.”

KevinCourtney100x100Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said: 

“Sir Lewis Hamilton is one of the UK’s most extraordinarily talented and successful sports stars. His determination and passion to widen opportunities and access to motorsports and his commitment to making change in the industry, and to talking about and challenging racism, is admirable. There are 40,000 jobs across Formula 1 in the UK, and less than 1% are filled by Black people.  

"The NEU is immensely proud to have worked alongside Lewis on this Commission. We welcome today’s vital report, with its focus on the support and empowerment of young Black people into engineering careers. The Commission calls for change within education to enable young Black people to visualise what a career in engineering might involve, and to see themselves in those roles.  

"The report has insightful and incisive recommendations. There are good ideas about targeted support programmes and best practice guidance for STEM inspiration and outreach engagement with Black students in schools, and their teachers.  

"The Commission has pointed to strategic challenges such as the lack of Black teacher role models in STEM subjects and lower entries for Black young people to STEM subjects, such as triple science GCSE - which is often required in order to take STEM subjects at A-Level.   

"The NEU is committed to working with The Hamilton Commission to support and empower young Black people through education, and to widen opportunities. This requires us to identify the national policy changes and curriculum development needed across the education system – and to ensure we measure progress. 

"We want to enable many more children and young people to study STEM subjects and go into engineering or motorsports if they wish and by showing the varied and rewarding roles on offer in that industry. 

"We hope that the Department for Education will seriously consider the education recommendations within this report, including the call for a new exclusions innovation fund to address the factors that contribute to the high proportion of Black students who are being excluded from schools.   

"We welcome the decision by the Commission to recommend the NEU Anti-Racism Charter to schools and hope to work with the DfE, other unions and STEM organisations. We think the DfE must provide strong, consistent leadership on race equality in order to raise outcomes and opportunities for young Black people.” 

The Hamilton Commission has been in development since December 2019 but was publicly launched in June 2020 to coincide with the heightened media and public interest in the Black Lives Matter Movement and greater scrutiny of race inequality in society. In the last year, the industry also responded with diversity and inclusion initiatives from the FIA, Formula 1 and Formula 1 teams, such as Mercedes. While The Hamilton Commission supports these individual commitments to progress, through its final report and recommendations it calls on each organisation to work together towards a better industry for future generations.

Third party research was conducted with Cultural Intelligence Hub and ICM

Lewis Hamilton announces board members of The Hamilton Commission set up to encourage young Black people to enter STEM careers - particularly UK motorsport 

24th Sept 2020: The Hamilton Commission, set up by Lewis Hamilton at the beginning of the year, is aimed at improving the representation of Black people in UK motorsport

Six-Time Formula One™ World Champion, Lewis Hamilton MBE HonFREng and the Royal Academy of Engineering today (24 Sept) announce the Board of Commissioners for The Hamilton Commission, a research project that will work to identify the key barriers to recruitment and progression of Black people in UK motorsport, and provide actionable recommendations to overcome them.

The Hamilton Commission will be co-chaired by Lewis Hamilton and Dr Hayaatun Sillem CBE, Chief Executive of the Royal Academy of Engineering. The Board of Commissioners is an independent group made up of 14 experts and industry leaders from within the UK who represent a range of perspectives on the challenge.

The Commissioners have been specially selected to represent a wide range of expertise spanning critical areas of influence including motorsport, engineering, schools, colleges and universities, community / youth groups, as well as major UK political parties.

"Change isn’t coming quickly enough, and we need to know why", says Lewis Hamilton, Formula One World Champion

Imperial College’s President, Professor Alice Gast, has been appointed to the Board of The Hamilton Commission, a research project that will work to identify the key barriers to recruitment and progression of Black people in UK motorsport, and provide actionable recommendations to overcome them.

Professor Gast joins 13 other industry leaders and experts from the UK on the board, who represent a diverse range of relevant fields including motorsport, engineering, education, community groups and politics.

"Inclusion and excellence go hand in hand", commented Professor Alice Gast, President, Imperial College London

Members of the board will be responsible for reviewing and informing The Hamilton Commission’s research methodology, examining findings and helping to identify the key challenges and opportunities facing young Black people entering STEM careers - particularly in UK motorsport, and advising on the final actions and recommendations that result from the research. Commissioners will also support with championing and implementing recommendation from the resulting report within their sphere of influence.

The current world champion, widely regarded as one of the greatest drivers of all time, is an outspoken advocate for racial equality. This season he has taken the knee before races, worn Black Lives Matter t-shirts, and highlighted cases of racial injustice and police brutality. He has used his profile and influence to promote diversity in motorsport and engineering throughout his career.

Lewis Hamilton said:

“Since I began my professional racing career in Formula One, 14 years ago, I was the first driver of colour and to this day, sadly that is still the case. However, what is more concerning is that there are still very few people of colour across the sport as a whole. In F1, our teams are much bigger than the athletes that front them, but representation is insufficient across every skill set – from the garage to the engineers in the factories and design departments.

"Change isn’t coming quickly enough, and we need to know why. This is why I wanted to set up the Commission and I’m proud to be working with the Royal Academy of Engineering and our incredible Board of Commissioners to identify the barriers facing young Black people to take up STEM careers in motorsport. We are dedicated to this cause and together, we will make a change.”

Professor Alice Gast, President of Imperial College London, said:

"Lewis Hamilton's vision in founding The Hamilton Commission will not only strengthen Formula One and motorsport, but will help bring needed talent into engineering. Inclusion and excellence go hand in hand. Lewis is a role model for future stars of engineering and innovation as much as he is a sporting icon and I’m very pleased to be working with him."

Commission Co-Chair Dr Hayaatun Sillem said:

“At the Royal Academy of Engineering, one of our priorities is to ensure that the UK has a world-leading and truly inclusive engineering workforce, something that we can only achieve if we boost the numbers and diversity of those choosing engineering careers. This is why we are so delighted to be partnering with Lewis in establishing The Hamilton Commission to improve the representation of Black people in UK motorsport. I was honoured to be asked to co-chair with Lewis our wonderful Board of Commissioners, who have each been carefully selected based on their experience, expertise and commitment to tackling racial injustice. This is a truly unique opportunity to drive transformational change on this crucial issue, and in the process to learn more about how we can enrich diversity in other parts of engineering and society.”

Formula One at Imperial College

Imperial College has been a driving force for talent and innovation in Formula one, almost from its inception. Scores of alumni from the Department of Aeronautics work for F1 teams, as do many other Imperial graduates.

In the 1960s, when the importance of aerodynamics in Formula One racing was becoming more widely appreciated, the department became involved in much of the pioneering work in this field - including pivotal wind-tunnel testing for Donald Campbell on his Bluebird record breaking car. A contract from Honda in the 1980s enabled the department to build a substantially larger wind tunnel, the Honda 10x5 Tunnel, optimised for race-car testing.

Since then the wind tunnels at Imperial have been used by many major Formula One teams including McLaren, Williams and Ferrari. The governing body of Formula One, the FIA, commissioned a program of testing at the Imperial wind tunnel to determine how downforce and drag are affected during an overtaking manoeuvre.

Recent research carried out into flow control techniques and the development of cutting-edge numerical and experimental methods has allowed specific and significant improvements in the aerodynamic design of Formula One racing cars. Professor Peter Bearman’s research into the geometry changes and their effect on drag has led to improved lap times and a more competitive race environment. Professor Spencer Sherwin has made key developments to the high order numerical code, Nektar++, allowing the accurate and transient simulation of flow around or over complex geometries. Sponsored by McLaren, he has applying these methods to numerically simulate the unsteady flow around geometries relevant to a Formula One car.

Tackling racial inequality at Imperial College

Earlier this year Imperial’s President announced a series of initiatives to address current and historic racial injustices at Imperial and beyond.

Among immediate steps being taken are driving forward a new outreach programme targeting Black students in London with the aim of doubling the number coming to Imperial by 2024-25, establishing a new scholarship fund to support Black students, and commissioning a working group to examine the College's history and legacy in the context of colonialism and empire.

Each of the Commissioners will bring valuable expertise, knowledge and experience from their respective fields to The Hamilton Commission. Their responsibilities will be to review and inform the research methodology; to examine the research findings and help identify the key challenges and opportunities facing young Black people entering STEM careers, particularly in UK motorsport; and to advise on the final actions and recommendations that result from the research. Following engagement and consultation with motorsport communities within the UK, the final evidence and recommendations will be published and taken directly to key stakeholders who can help implement change. Commissioners will also support this effort by applying their personal influence to champion the insights and recommendations from the project.

The Board of Commissioners for The Hamilton Commission include:

  • KAREN CHOUHAN, Lead Equality Officer with a specialism in race policy for the National Education Union
  • JEREMY CROOK OBE, Chief Executive of the Black Training and Enterprise Group
  • TRACEY CROUCH MP, former Sports Minister and British Conservative Party politician
  • DR NIKE FOLAYAN MBE, Co-founder and Chair of the Association for Black and Minority Ethnic Engineers, AFBE-UK
  • PROFESSOR ALICE GAST FREng, President of Imperial College London
  • MARK HAMLIN, Chair of Project 44
  • DR ZUBAIDA HAQUE, Former Interim Director of the Runnymede Trust
  • DR ANNE-MARIE IMAFIDON MBE, Co-founder of Stemettes and Trustee at the Institute for the Future of Work
  • GEORGE IMAFIDON, Co-Founder of Motivez, One Young World Ambassador and Royal Academy of Engineering Scholar
  • GLEN LAMBERT, Head of School of Construction, Science and Engineering at College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London
  • PROFESSOR DAVID MBA, Pro-Vice Chancellor Research and Enterprise, and Dean of the Faculty of Computing, Engineering and Media at De Montfort University
  • IZZY OBENG, Managing Director at Foundervine and Non-Executive Director for Capital Enterprise
  • CHI ONWURAH MP, British Member of Parliament representing Newcastle upon Tyne Central and also Shadow Minister Digital, Science & Technology
  • MARTIN WHITMARSH, Former CEO of the McLaren Formula One Team, Member of the Global Advisory Board of Formula E, Chair of the Offshore Wind Growth Partnership Limited and Chairman of BAR Technologies Limited

The first meeting of the Board of Commissioners took place earlier this month, where the Commissioners shared their initial insights and thoughts on the research plan with Lewis and Hayaatun. The Board will meet quarterly to discuss and inform the latest Commission research and explore how the Commissioners can advance agreed upon recommendations through their networks.

The Hamilton Commission will undertake a range of activities to help inform the research findings. These activities will include an initial data analysis, stakeholder mapping, a literature review in sport, education and employment, as well as in-depth surveying and analysis with youth focus groups and key stakeholders. At the end of the research project, The Hamilton Commission will aim to deliver recommendations about inclusive recruitment and progression practices that will benefit young Black people wishing to work in the sector in the UK, and perhaps internationally too, should the actions be replicable.

The Hamilton Commission has been in development since December 2019 but publicly launched in June 2020 to coincide with the heightened media and public interest in the Black Lives Matter movement, and greater scrutiny of race inequality in society. The Commission will run for nine months and officially began on September 1st, 2020.

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