Being black made it harder to get a chance in Formula One, Lewis Hamilton admitted in an interview for the Hindustan Times.
“I think it was definitely the case,” said Hamilton when asked if his color was a barrier to reaching F1.
“My dad used to go and meet potential sponsors when I was younger and ask whether they would like to back a non-white driver and they used to laugh at him. Now that attitude has changed.
“I hope there will be many more non-white drivers on the grid now, including those from India.”
Hamilton got his F1 break courtesy of McLaren, who began backing him after he introduced himself to team principal Ron Dennis at an awards ceremony. Years later, Dennis contacts the Hamiltons to offer the young driver a deal.
“I came home from school and dad said Ron’s office had called and they wanted me to test,” said Hamilton. “I just went upstairs to do my homework. And then, during the entire process of studying with them, I realized what a huge opportunity it was to begin living my dream.”
When Hamilton won the world championship in 2008 he was the first non-white driver to do so and also the youngest driver to claim the crown – a record which has since been broken by Sebastian Vettel.
“I didn’t care that it came at a young age,” he said. “I was proud to have finally realized my dream. Just to get to F1 was an incredible achievement for my family and me.”