Performance


The women who inspire Lewis Hamilton.

28 April 2022

The F1 star reflects on the evolving role of women in motorsport and how his mother and stepmother have shaped his success.

Performance


The women who inspire Lewis Hamilton.

28 April 2022

The F1 star reflects on the evolving role of women in motorsport and how his mother and stepmother have shaped his success.

Lewis Hamilton with his mother Carmen Lockhart at Windsor Castle

Lewis Hamilton recalls the look of pride from his mother Carmen Lockhart when he was knighted at Windsor Castle in December 2021. Image: Andrew Matthews / Getty Images.

When Lewis Hamilton was knighted at Windsor Castle in late 2021, adding the honorary title ‘sir’ to his already mind-boggling list of achievements, there is one very specific image that he has carried with him ever since.

 

It isn’t shaking hands with Prince Charles, nor the pomp and grandeur of a royal residence. Instead, it’s the look of pride he received from his mother, Carmen Lockhart, who accompanied him to the ceremony.

 

“We walked in, and she’s on my arm, and we had to separate, and I had to do the kneeling thing, with the sword over my shoulder,” he told an audience at Mercedes-Benz Ladies Day at the Formula 1® Australian Grand Prix.

 

“I looked to my right, and she’s standing there with the biggest smile I’ve ever seen. That was, for me, one of the most special moments I’ve ever experienced.”

 

Family values

 

The seven-time F1 champion is unequivocal about the role family has played in his success, both on the racetrack and in his work championing greater diversity in motorsport.

 

Lewis credited his “two mums”, mother Carmen and stepmother Linda Hamilton, as “incredibly independent, powerful women” who both devoted themselves to supporting his dreams from a young age.

 

“That supportive structure that both my mums have given me has really enabled me to excel,” he said.

Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes-Benz Ladies Day at the Formula 1® Australian Grand Prix.
The videos shows How Lewis Hamilton’s mother and stepmother shaped his success
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Lewis Hamilton shared how his family has shaped his success with an audience at Mercedes-Benz Ladies Day at the Formula 1® Australian Grand Prix.

“They weren’t out enjoying life or on holidays, all their money went into racing and my dad couldn’t have done that alone. I remember being at home and [my stepmum] stitching my name into my first suit.

 

“I think we live in a world where there's not enough compassion and not enough empathy. I feel like I really got that from my mum, both my mothers.

 

The star recently announced his intention to add his mother Carmen’s maiden name – Larbalestier – to his own, telling reporters at the Dubai Expo in March, “I really want my mum’s name to continue on with the Hamilton name.”

 

At Ladies Day, Lewis also paid tribute to his father, Anthony Hamilton, who he described as “a hard nut”, who sacrificed a great deal to nurture his son’s talent.

 

“He had four jobs at one stage, to keep me racing, but he was also that protector for me,” he told the audience.

 

“I went to a school where there were not many people of colour, [and] I was beaten up a lot … I remember being at the track and I had that one black male figure who was there with me, because I was the only other person of colour there. So he was very, very important also.”

 

A champion for change

 

Lewis has emerged as a leader in fighting for greater diversity in F1, using his own platforms to call out racism and partnering with the Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team to establish Ignite, a charitable initiative that promotes diversity and inclusion in motorsport.

 

In July 2021, he published the findings of the Hamilton Commission, a 10-month study into the barriers to the recruitment and progression of black people within UK motorsport.

Lewis Hamilton with Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team boss Toto Wolff

Lewis Hamilton (right) with Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team boss Toto Wolff announcing the launch of the Ignite charitable initiative. Image: Mercedes-Benz Group AG.

The report made 10 recommendations to address the underrepresentation of black people within UK motorsport, as well as in STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths – industries more broadly. These included scholarship programmes for students of colour to study university degrees in STEM, broadening recruitment practices in motorsport and asking F1 teams to implement a diversity and inclusion charter.

 

Lewis said he was driven to establish the commission after years of being “the only person of colour in the room”, whether it was on a photoshoot or in team meetings with engineers and mechanics.

 

“You notice it when you walk in and you wonder, ‘where is everyone?’,” he said. “When I would ask questions of our leaders, they would never have an answer.”

 

Closing the gender gap

 

Though the Hamilton Commission focuses on improving racial diversity in motorsport, these questions, Lewis said, need to be asked about the gender gap in what remains an overwhelmingly male-dominated industry.

 

“We are working as a team to make sure that we’re pushing for diversity. There are so many opportunities … and there are a lot of these amazing women coming through,” he said, pointing to Spaniard Cristina Gutiérrez, who drives for his X44 team in the all-electric Extreme E series. “She’s an incredible champion rally driver.”

Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS trackside fluid engineer Stephanie Travers

Lewis said he wants to see more women working behind the scenes in motorsport, such as Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS trackside fluid engineer Stephanie Travers. Image: Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd / Supplied.

Lewis said he’s also been inspired by British former racing driver and Formula E’s Venturi Racing team principal Susie Wolff (née Stoddart), who he describes as “a real boss” and Rwandan-Belgian W Series driver and Sky Sports presenter Naomi Schiff.

 

He wants to see more female drivers rising through the ranks of motorsport, as well as more women working behind the scenes, such as Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS trackside fluid engineer Stephanie Travers, who in 2020, became the first black woman on the F1 podium.

 

“There's research now that shows that a diverse workforce is much, much better for an organisation, but it seems that there's still conscious bias in hiring,” he said.

 

“I think for us men, we need to be championing women more. It's about encouraging women to want to get involved and creating an environment where they feel comfortable, included and treated equally.”

 

 

Follow Lewis Hamilton and the Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team throughout the season here.

By Jo Davy