From education to employment

Hamilton Commission publishes report on 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

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

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.”

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.

Notes to editors

Full report and smart article available for download from The Hamilton Commission website.

Third party research was conducted with Cultural Intelligence Hub and ICM and is available to review at

The Royal Academy of Engineering is harnessing the power of engineering to build a sustainable society and an inclusive economy that works for everyone. In collaboration with our Fellows and partners, we’re growing talent and developing skills for the future, driving innovation and building global partnerships, and influencing policy and engaging the public. Together we’re working to tackle the greatest challenges of our age.

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