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.”
SAKHIR, Bahrain – Fernando Alonso will take his first step towards a possible entry to the 24 Hours of Le Mans when he tests an LMP1 car for Toyota on Sunday at the Bahrain International Circuit.
McLaren Formula 1 driver and two-time world champion Alonso is hoping to appear at Le Mans next year as part of his bid to become just the second man in history to complete the ‘Triple Crown of Motorsport’.
Alonso has already completed one leg by winning the Monaco Grand Prix twice, and made his debut at the Indianapolis 500 in May with McLaren-Honda-Andretti, retiring late on due to an engine failure.
Momentum is building for Alonso to make his Le Mans debut with Toyota in 2018, starting with a first sports car run-out in the FIA World Endurance Championship’s end-of-season rookie test in Bahrain on Sunday.
Alonso arrived in Bahrain on Saturday to watch the six-hour WEC race as an invited guest of the Bahraini royal family, with his participation in the test being confirmed after the race.
“We are very excited that Fernando will test our car. When he visited us in Cologne everyone who met him could sense his enthusiasm and passion for our sport; he is a true racer,” Toyota Gazoo Racing team president Hisatake Murata said.
“We very much respect his interest in different forms of motorsport and it is a pleasure to offer him this chance to drive a hybrid LMP1 car. It will be interesting to hear his feedback on the TS050 Hybrid.”
Alonso will share running in the Toyota car with 19-year-old Thomas Laurent, who received a test as a prize for his star display during his rookie WEC campaign this year, while regular Toyota racer Mike Conway will also complete laps.