Motor sport diversity report offers suggestions, damning insight

A commission set up by Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton to help boost the number of black people in British motor sport published its report yesterday, with 10 recommendations for change and some damning insights into the industry.

The report, led by the Royal Academy of Engineering, found that none of the seven British-based Formula One teams or 4,000 UK motor sport companies had ethnicity data for employees.

An estimate, however, suggested that only one per cent of the 40,000 strong workforce was black.

Rhys Morgan, director at the Royal Academy, told reporters the research also found examples of "quite horrible racist comments", which he said were waved away as "banter".

One F1 engineer said he had experienced jokes about black people, afro combs, fried chicken, crime rates and poverty in Africa, while a black female race marshal spoke of people addressing her in a Jamaican accent.

The commission found a number of barriers to diversity, including hiring from a select group of top universities, the rural locations of teams and systemic underachievement in schools.

There was also a feeling among black students that motor sport was not for them, while a cost cap introduced this season created a potential barrier for taking on more apprentices.

Recommendations include asking F1 teams to implement a diversity and inclusion charter for motor sport and possible cost cap exemptions for taking on staff from black backgrounds.

Hamilton, the sport's sole black driver, hoped the report would start "a ripple effect" for change and saw it as a big part of his motor sport legacy.

"I would like to be remembered for much more than just winning championships, which of course, is an amazing thing on its own, but actually helping people and changing the industry and the viewpoints," he said. - REUTERS