F1’s managing director speaks to Sky Sports about what the sport is doing to improve diversity
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 08/06/20 3:30pm
Ross Brawn says Formula 1 fully supports Lewis Hamilton’s comments on racism and diversity and says the sport is working on ways to provide greater opportunities for all to get into motorsport.
Hamilton, F1’s six-time champion and the grid’s only black driver, has long posted passionately on social media speaking out against racism and calling for greater equality in the sport.
In the wake of the death of George Floyd in the United States, Hamilton called on the F1 community to speak out. His message prompted several drivers and the sport itself to issue anti-racism messages.
Brawn, who was Hamilton’s first team boss when he joined Mercedes and now plays a leading role in F1 as its managing director of motorsports, said F1 was fully behind its leading driver.
“Lewis is a great ambassador for the sport and his comments are very valid,” said Brawn to The F1 Show.
“We support him completely.”
How can F1 become more diverse?
Brawn said F1 was aware it needed to improve diversity across the sport and said creating greater opportunities at grassroots level – for young drivers, engineers and other potential roles – was at the heart of the required change.
“We are F1 have recognised for a few years now that we want to strengthen our diversity and our diversity programme. Both internally as a company, and externally, we started work on this a few years ago,” explained Brawn.
“Our thoughts were that the reasons why we don’t have more diversity in Formula 1 it starts at the very beginning. It starts at grassroots level. It even starts in the schools with the STEM topics – science, technology, engineering and maths. How can we be involved in that?
“We have been involved in Formula 1 in Schools. We’ve always supported it but we have gotten far more involved in the last year or two and that has a very strong diversity in terms of the kids that get involved. Forty per cent of the kids that get involved in Formula 1 in Schools are girls, so that’s a good start. And it’s an international competition, so we get competitors from all groups.
“We’re looking very strongly at how we can support grassroots racing level. I’ve spent the last weeks and months working with a group to look how we can have a really, really basic karting initiative to get kids involved in karting at a very early stage.
Brawn added: The fact is Formula 1 is a very strong meritocracy, it should always be that way. It should always be the best who win – and we can’t force that. But we can give greater opportunity to minority and ethnic groups to get involved in motorsport. Not just driving, but engineering and other activities. That’s where we are with Formula 1.
“We support totally what Lewis has said. What happened was dreadful, it happens far too often, and I think we have seen the public reaction to it. It’s almost the straw that broke the camel’s back, and we support him totally.”
Asked if F1 needed to provide financial support for initiatives, Brawn said: “That’s what we want to do with karting. That’s what we do with Formula 1 in schools. We were due to have some W Series this year, unfortunately the pandemic has delayed that. So we are helping with these initiatives.
“We’ve got a lot of initiatives in terms of gender pay gap, and we’re looking at other pay gaps within our companies and making sure we’re doing everything we can. I think Formula 1 is helping and I think you will see with some of these karting initiatives we’ve been working on that that will be a great opportunity and Formula 1 will support it.”