Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Albert Park, 2018

Hamilton’s plea for diversity is a noble goal which faces practical problems


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Last week Lewis Hamilton panned his phone across the paddock and gave social media his views on the sport seems no more diverse now than when he arrived 11 years ago.

With the first race weekend of the season ramping up it was quickly forgotten amid the chatter around red flags, party modes and everything else.

Would F1 prefer to sweep the diversity debate under the carpet? Or are the obstacles to progress outside its control? Dieter Rencken gives the benefit of his experience.

Lewis Hamilton ranks as Formula 1’s most diverse character: mixed-race, born to Grenadian/English parents; four-time world champion and holder of various F1 records, yet good-times seeker; rapper; fashion aficionado; on occasions absolutely focussed, at others totally detached; given to light-hearted banter at times, yet deeply philosophical; born in a Stevenage council estate, now a Monaco resident.

Hamilton’s Instagram video

Thus it was fitting that Lewis should he share an Instagram message calling for diversity in Formula 1, posting: “There is hardly any diversity in F1, still nothing’s changed in 11 years I’ve been here. Kids, people, there’s so many jobs in this sport of which anybody no matter your ethnicity or background, can make it and fit in. #diversity #youcandoit”

His call followed comments he made last November during a BBC Radio Five Live Sportsweek interview, when Hamilton showed his interest in diversity is not limited to those with similar roots to his: “People come up to me from different ethnic backgrounds. I have Asian families, black families, Mexican families come up to me and saying, ‘My kid wants to be you one day’, and I can assure you when I started racing there weren’t people from those places,” he said in November 2017.

“I take great pride in that. Like the great Williams sisters [Serena and Venus], like Tiger Woods, who really broke a mould, knocked down a wall for others to come through.

“I’m proud to be part of that hopefully positive change.”

Setting aside some historical inaccuracies (Althea Gibson won three Grand Slams including Wimbledon in the fifties, Mexicans first raced in F1 in the sixties and Asian (Japanese) drivers contested F1 in the seventies, Malaysian Alex Yoong contested the 2001-02 F1 seasons, Narain Karthikeyan, known in the paddock as ‘The World’s Fastest Indian’ debuted in F1 in 2005, while Arthur Ashe and Charles Luther Sifford blazed tennis/golf trails in the sixties) Lewis is spot-on. A cursory glance about the paddock proves F1 lacks diversity.

The implication, though, is that F1, and therefore ultimately the FIA, Formula One Management and the teams collectively, are to blame for this lamentable situation. Yet clause 1.1 of the FIA’s statutes states: “The FIA shall refrain from manifesting discrimination on account of race, skin colour, gender, sexual orientation, ethnic or social origin, language, religion, philosophical or political opinion, family situation or disability in the course of its activities and from taking any action in this respect.”

Saliently this clause is preceded only by the aims of the FIA, proving that its commitment to diversity is of the highest priority, with the next clause (1.2) reinforcing that message by stressing the governing body’s obligation to democracy: “The FIA shall respect the highest standards of governance, transparency and democracy, including anti-corruption functions and procedures.”

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The teams have every reason to embrace diversity, for they are in the business of selling performance to multi-national brands, all of whom depend upon the full global customer spectrum to maximize brand awareness and, by extension, profits. Thus the blame for F1’s lack of diversity cannot be laid at their feet; if anything, the opposite.

Where, then, does the problem lie? Why does F1 not have Congolese drivers or Jamaican tyre fitters, or East Javanese hospitality staff and Tibetan doctors? Given that virtually every real world job is replicated in the F1 paddock, why no Indian medical staff, or Aboriginal mechanics, Amazonian scrutineers or Namibian timekeepers? Of course these question apply equally to all genders and orientations.

The answers lie not with the FIA, FOM or F1’s teams, sponsors or suppliers, but in global politics. Taking just one of the examples above, namely that of an ethnic Congolese tyre fitter: What chance does a youngster in Kigali who dreams of being of being Hamilton’s right rear tyre fitter have of obtaining a work permit to work for the team, or obtain visas to travel the world?

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018
F1’s global paddock has a Euro-centric population
Heck, the poor kid can’t even obtain a UK visitor visa without shelling out thousands and answering reams of questions even before the cost of his air fare is factored into the equation. What chance then of a permit to work in a country that already shuns qualified workers from the European Union? The signs are Britain’s departure from the EU this situation will become even more acute, even for highly qualified engineers.

Consider the case of a freelance Indian journalist, whose work appears in a major international publication. Ahead of last week’s Australian Grand Prix he did everything according to the book to apply for the Sub-class 400 work visa required to report on the event: He applied immediately after receiving the official invitation letter from the circuit, then completed all 20 pages in the application form and paid the required AUS$275 (£150).

Three weeks later his application had even not been assessed, forcing him to re-book his flight at considerable cost. After contacting Australian immigration consultants he was assured of obtaining his visa in time. It did not arrive so he missed that flight, with no refund possible. Eventually his visa arrived Thursday, forcing him to book another flight at horrific cost, which landed Friday noon. What chance for an East Javanese scribe?

I was not alone in experiencing similar issues last year. Having applied within the “window”, my visa was eventually issued on the morning of the flight. A UK colleague who had not received his visa prior to flying, took a chance and departed for Melbourne on the strength of a valid ESTA visitor visa, hoping to blag entry. He was relieved when his Sub-class 400 arrived by email while he was already in transit.

When first I decided to devote myself to F1 in 1992 I travelled from Africa to the UK on a visitor visa, aiming to gain employment with a team. I hold an industrial engineering qualification and had many years of marketing and managerial experience, plus a burning desire to get into the sport I loved. I applied to all nine British teams then in F1, and received six replies – without exception all required proof of work permit.

I approached numerous immigration consultants, all of whom advised I did not qualify as my skills set did not meet specialist criteria. Shortly before departing the UK in utter despair I discovered foreign journalists could apply for “leave to remain”, and requested a letter of accreditation from a newspaper editor with whom I was acquainted, despite not having written essays for 20 years and being unable to type. I was fortunate…

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Of course one hears of ‘foreigners’ working in F1. However, upon closer investigation they invariably hold ancestral passports or spousal rights that qualify them for European residence. Ten years ago a South African publication commissioned me to write a piece about the 10 or so South Africans in F1 at the time in the hope of inspiring others to follow in their footsteps.

Following various preparatory interviews I realised that unless South Africans (or most non-European nationals, for that matter) had second passports or spousal rights, they had absolutely no chance of working in F1 unless they had other-worldly specialist skills in a field with few graduates. Therefore such a feature would prove utterly demoralising for readers who had set their hearts on working in F1. Unsurprisingly, we canned it.

 Darrell 'Bubba' Wallace Jnr< NASCAR, 2018
Hamilton leant his support to NASCAR driver Wallace
During the course of that research in (South) Africa I discovered many I spoke to didn’t necessarily regard Lewis as a role model, but rather viewed him as being fortunate enough to hold UK nationality, with the implication being that on nationality grounds alone Grenadians (or others in developing countries) could not achieve his heights, even if they possessed the necessary talent.

Of course African footballers and West Indian cricketers prevail in those sports in Europe. But the difference is that the sports have low economic barriers to entry, while motorsport costs a fortune, even at ground-level. And football or crickets teams don’t employ 1,000 people back at base, so the difference in diversity is less stark.

Thus to draw parallels with people from under-represented communities working in NASCAR, as some have done since Lewis spoke out, is downright disingenuous. How many visas or work permits does a tyre fitter from Alabama require to work in Charlotte? They would, however, require visas and permits to work in F1, as would Mexicans to work in NASCAR.

Given the foregoing, folk would do better to ask why NASCAR has had just two African American drivers in its 70-year history; why Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jnr is only the category’s second black driver, and its first since 1971; why NASCAR has taken until 2018 to find its first African-American woman tyre changer namely Brehanna Daniels at this year’s Daytona 500.

Therein lies the crux: Much as F1 considers itself to be a world championship, and thus theoretically open to all citizens of this world, the sport does not exist in a bubble. All F1 personnel whether working for teams, the governing body, or FOM, are required to satisfy the employment laws of their host countries, just as the employing entities are required to comply. Any deviations result in immediate deportment and massive fines.

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F1 teams currently operate out of three countries – UK, Italy and Switzerland* while FOM and the FIA operate out of the UK and France / Switzerland respectively. The relevant laws in these countries are particularly stringent and exemptions are issued only where employers are able to categorically prove a dearth of specialist skills in their countries. Aerodynamic and CFD specialists may fall into that category if teams motivate their applications correctly; tyre fitters and hospitality staff decidedly do not.

Unless prospective employees, regardless of gender or creed, satisfy the employment criteria conditions of those three European countries – and that is without factoring the need for travel visas into any equation – there simply is no chance of a job in F1, regardless of their passion for the sport. That is precisely why F1 is Euro-centric, and likely to remain so.

True Indians, Iranians, Africans, Australians and others from non-European countries have been able to find employment in F1. But their presences are/were down to specialist skills, ancestral visas, spousal rights and so on. And do not for a moment believe that ancestral or spousal rights are standardised across the EU – citizen laws vary across the community.

Drivers, of course, have specialist skills, and thus generally are issued with employment permits (where contractual situations demand, some are not classed as employees) and travel visas, but not without inconvenience in some instances: I once stood in a non-EU passport queue for what felt like hours in Frankfurt with Sergio Perez while F1 buddies who held maroon passports sailed through.

However, not all drivers gain automatic entry into grand prix host countries: In 1977 Ian Scheckter, brother of Jody (that season a title contender), arrived in Japan for the country’s second grand prix, only to be whisked away and held in a cell for the weekend despite presenting valid documents. Why they grabbed Ian and not his brother as well despite both holding the same (South African) nationality was never explained.

If anything, the situation will deteriorate as countries tighten up on immigration in the face of terrorism, refugees and asylum seekers, or while unemployment is rampant. Last week The Times reported “The Home Office has turned away thousands of engineers, doctors and lawyers after hitting a cap on the number of visas for highly skilled non-EU migrants for a record fourth month in a row.” So what chance F1 workers?

Much as Lewis Hamilton’s push for diversity has unarguable merit, the bottom line is that F1 as a sport is unable to heed his calls until, first and foremost, the European geopolitical situation changes, employment laws are relaxed and visa official don’t view every applicant as a rogue hell-bent on asylum. Sorry Lewis, but F1 is likely to be extinct long before that happens.

*Haas enters under an American licence, but its manufacturing is undertaken by Dallara’s facility, wind tunnel work at Ferrari and the race base is in UK, and apart from team executives, few US nationals feature on its Europeans payrolls

Follow Dieter on Twitter: @RacingLines


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138 comments on “Hamilton’s plea for diversity is a noble goal which faces practical problems”

  1. Wonderful read Mr. Rencken.

    Personal opinion–>The FIA should reconsider reviving the A1 Grand Prix series. This could be a wonderful platform for people from different backgrounds. It can serve as a feeder series for F1.

    1. You’ll find that the A1GP cars were based in UK and most entries operated by established GP2/F3 teams, so the same employment restrictions applied. The SA team was, for example, operated by DAMS – which is where I first met Eric Boullier – with a SA driver and token SA representation for the rest.

      1. While you make a valid point that there are practical considerations that come into play, I think what Lewis was alluding to was a bit more subtle. For example, looking across the pitlane, its a sea of straight white men. But looking at engineering campuses, you see way more diversity (its still mostly men though), yet almost none of them make it onto formula 1 teams. Here the issue is that people do this subconsciously as opposed to overtly or deliberately which makes it more subtle and therefore harder to fight, see below, but the net effect is the same. On top of that, its long been known that recruiters and managers hire people like themselves and that they would get along with, so the more different a candidate is, regardless of credentials, the harder it is for them to get the job.

        We tend to think of discriminatory people (on this side of the pond at least) as Cletus who lives in a trailer, buys guns, works at a factory, drives a pickup, and shouts slurs. There’s also Karen who went to an Ivy League school, works in HR, shops at Whole Foods, does crossfit, and “loses” resumes if the name at the top is too ethnic. This is something I’ve personally seen and experienced myself so many times in multiple cities and companies across North America. I was working at a large bank once and had to hire some co-op computer science students for the summer. After I sent my recommendations for candidates to my boss, he removed a few names saying they didnt sound “Asian” enough.

        1. Guybrush Threepwood
          28th March 2018, 17:51

          Since when does diversity only relate to someone’s skin color or country of birth?

        2. @umartajuddin, that would also tally with the findings of the Department for Work and Pensions in the UK, which conducted a survey a number of years ago and concluded that the average person from an ethnic minority was nearly 30% less likely to be offered a job than an equivalently skilled white person.

          Another later study also showed that, when looking at young Muslim men, their likelihood of being rejected was around three times higher than that of an equivalently skilled worker with a more “English” sounding name. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-38751307 – provides links to both studies).

          That issue is perhaps somewhat overlooked here given that, generally, the majority of those behind the scenes in F1 are usually overlooked: maybe a handful of the most successful engineers are reasonably well known, but otherwise most are effectively ignored.

      2. True. I remember a local news bulletin telling people in my area they should really be cheering the USA entry rather than the British one because it was the only A1GP team run by a company within the news bulletin’s regional area…

    2. Here’s an idea – maybe white/European people are just better drivers. How bout that for an idea?

      Where’s all the call for diversity in the Olympic 100m sprint final??? Why don’t we have more white people in that? How bout cause their not fast enough! Black people are better runners – it’s just a fact.

      Why are 75% to 80% of NFL players black??? No one questions that.

      Why is it so damn hard to admit or accept that some genders/races/backgrounds etc. are just better at some things than others. It seems to me that we are all quite happy to accept this – when it’s the white man that’s the one who doesn’t perform so well.

      Total load of nonsense!!

      How do we know it’s total nonsense? In today’s society having someone ‘diverse’ would be a marketing boom. So why haven’t we seen it?

      The answer is quite simple – they’re not good enough!

      1. Let me clarify, before all the bed wetting lefty’s on this site pass out after reading my comment.

        The best person should get the job, regardless of their skin colour. Just look at the reigning (and 4x) world champion. Promoting someone for the job simply because of their skin colour is WRONG. Everyone used to agree on that, apparently not so much anymore.

        Also, all the cries about opportunities and how hard it is for some people from different countries/areas/backgrounds to get into F1 are ridiculous. Its Formula 1 – it’s hard for ANYONE to get into.

        There are only 20 active F1 drivers on the entire planet. There are 10’s of thousands, if not more, white straight guys who would cut off an appendage to get into F1, but have FAR less opportunity than Lewis Hamilton ever had.

        F1 is the pinnacle – it’s not meant to be easy to get into. You’re either good enough or you’re not, you either want it enough or you don’t.

        We’re all the masters of our own destiny. Stop whining and go out and get it.

      2. I was surprised really good and thoughtful fair comments until I reached yours

      3. I’m not sure I agree with this POV. To me it’s more of an exposure issue. I come from a country where renting out a kart for an hour costs 50$ and the income of the majority of households is under 2$ a day. If a child does not get exposed to the most basic form of motorsport they will never get into it or understand what it takes to make the motors go faster. Hence a career in motorsport is not even on the cards for them. A quick look at the results of most Karting competitions shows that the kids entering those competitions are from the who’s who interns of riches.

        It’s not that they done have the brains to do it, far from it. Heck we have some of the most innovative tech start-ups in Sub-Saharan Africa solving issues that affect us. Innovations that the West with all their might and resources cannot come up with. The brains are there, make no mistake about it.

        As much as we’d like to think F1 is a meritocracy, it isn’t. It’s a meritocracy for the rich maybe and a majority of the rich are Caucasian.

        1. digitalrurouni
          30th March 2018, 5:26

          This. A hundred times this. For example India has one of the largest populations on the planet. And there’s apparently the largest number of adolescents etc basically the next generation than any other country on the planet. However, money is not there. Neither is the mindset. Parents don’t say oh look I will send my kid to go karting and racing in the future. That imagination is not there. Neither is the exposure. People are more in to cricket and soccer etc. They built the Buddh international racing circuit and F1 was only there for a few years because of political and monetary reasons. So I gotta agree with JayR wholeheartedly here.

      4. Exactly! Pushing for diversity is just as bad as holding back certain races/sexes from roles. Giving someone a job just to tick a box or reach a quota is insulting for everyone involved.

  2. Diversity is business and strategic business positioning.

    Ending poverty and huge class gap is the only true way to fight for every person’s equal chance at pursuing their dream career.

    1. Very good point, Biggsy.

    2. joe pineapples
      28th March 2018, 15:01

      Nice one.

    3. Or the other way around: give people opportunity to fight under fair terms and we will probably reduce poverty drastically.

      As I’ve said before: F1 can go out and tell kids from underprivileged backgrounds in developed nations and kids from outside Europe they can be part of the family by excelling in their area of interest, for those in bad schools FIA/FOM and wealthy drivers (like Lewis) could help improve facilities and schooling, handing out grants and/or tutoring but kids should always be told that only those who proved their value could find a spot in the sport because quotas will not work.

      Kids must know that only opportunity separates them from their dreams and, IMHO, giving people a chance to fulfil their dreams is the best way to help them.

      On political/migration barriers mentioned on the article, F1 family cannot do much but lobbying European governments for better migration/mobility policies for professionals and trainees around the world. Like @dieterrencken I hold an African passport and being a dual citizen (with a maroon EU passport) I know how limited the world would be for me with only my Angolan passport.

      1. @jcost

        Non-westerners are actually rapidly gaining wealth, as well as the western upper class, as Piketty has shown with his research. It is specifically the Western middle and lower class that is not doing so well.

        Of course, none of this can be remedied by F1. The idea that F1 can be the solution or is the problem is hubris.

        1. Piketty? Alright.

    4. Yes because that is Marxism and that has definitely worked every other time it has been tried right, lets do it, who do i sign my bank account over to and where do i put all of my possessions?

    5. Ending poverty and the class gap – probably not the best argument in a sport where some drivers are paid $50M per year and some teams spend nearly half a Billion dollars PER SEASON.

  3. A great, if somewhat saddening article. But, quite true as well, and a useful reminder to people who’s only limit to being in f1 is ability, chance and drive as it is for me that the sport is essentially indeed still very much Europe centric, and likely to remain thus for the foreseeable future.

    Thanks once again for providing us fans with more context to our enjoyment of F1 @dieterrencken

  4. I posted it a while back, if you continue to see every non-black person as ‘white’ you’ll never have diversity. There’s drivers, engineers and team members from all over the world. Hamilton his claims for more diversity is nothing more but him walking the absolutely flawed trend that everything must be diverse and every single part of society must be represented in every committee. Let me also once more point out there isn’t single proof a more diverse in colour or gender group of people would thrive more successful than a less diverse one.

    As far as I’m aware there also isn’t a single rule regarding gender or race preventing you from entering the sport. But we must have more people of colour in the sport, and we must have women in the sport. So why exactly do we? That doesn’t mean I would welcome anyone who got there on merit, but I absolutely detest quota for that matter.

    Consider the case of a freelance Indian journalist, whose work appears in a …

    I think this is a perfect example of how easy we’re using the term racism, this is just an administrative error, and happens all the time to a whole range of people. Or do you really believe some Australian customs agent thought ‘let me just delay this visa because he’s Indian’.

    1. Thank you for questioning a point. First, any Euro-based F1 could have flown to Australia on an ESTA as I pointed out; he could not even board.

      Second, the issue here is the no-care attitude expressed by visa officers on this particular case, and that you can interpret as you like. It’s also not the first time I know of hassles for Indians.

      Let me be absolutely clear: I referred to ‘Indian’ as his nationality, not skin colour. It seems you chose to read colour into the example. The thrust of the entire column is to highlight issues people have by having the ‘wrong’ nationality, not skin colour – that should be clear from the Sergio Perez anecdote.

      I know of a Russian whose UK visa took over 2 months to process despite repeated follow up, and of course he missed the BGP. Again, nothing to do with colour.

      1. @dieterrencken Which laws a country uses to decide on what grounds someone from another can visit theirs is free for that country to decide as long as those laws apply to every single person with the nationality of that particular country, and that’s not racism. If for example stats show that 99% of the Monegasque population ever to visit Paraguay committed crimes I see no reason why the Paraguayan authorities make laws more strict for Monegasque visitors.

        Then there’s a whole lot of Indians traveling the world every day, if we assume they represent a fairly large proportion of all travelers considering their population is also, statistically they are bound to hit more trouble than let’s say the Monegasques. I’m from a very small country and somehow managed to hit trouble on all of my last three visits to other countries. If you search on the internet you’ll find plenty of unhappy men and woman complaining about air travel and customs. I work in logistics and know how hard customs can be.

        Racism is the discrimination of people on the basis of colour or race. So whether I read Indian as ‘colour’ or ‘race’ doesn’t matter. On top I hate using the word race as biologically there is but one race, the human race. So whether these people had the ‘wrong’ nationality is really not something I tend to believe in. Or not as in ‘it happens on a systemic level’. I’m not the biggest fan of anecdotal evidence, I’m sure there’s plenty of Russians who travel without issues.

        1. Maybe if you read ‘Indian’ not as ‘race’ or ‘colour’ but as nationality – and there is a massive difference between the three terms – you’d understand the thrust – that whole nations are excluded from employment in F1. International travel visas do work purposes are peripheral to that. I suppose if I related a story about an Israeli F1 journalist being refused entry to Middle Eastern grands prix you’d suggest that to be anecdotal, too?

          As for ‘hate using’ the term race: you introduced the term to this discussion. I consistently referred to ‘nationality’.

          1. Your quote: ‘Which laws a country uses to decide on what grounds someone from another can visit theirs is free for that country to decide as long as those laws apply to every single person with the nationality of that particular country, and that’s not racism’

            Precisely my point, thank you – namely that UK/European employment laws mitigate against non-citizens, making diversity in F1 impossible.

            I rest my case.

        2. @dieterrencken Oh, I might have taken a wrong approach here, I very much agree with that, except I don’t put that in the same tab as racism. So does it halt diversity, sure, but not as a result of racism, which surely is what Hamilton is referring to.

          But then again diversity in Formula One isn’t impossible because one or two nations aren’t represented. There’s plenty of religions, people from different backgrounds represented in my opinion to say the paddock is a fairly diverse circus.

          As for ‘hate using’ the term race: you introduced the term to this discussion. I consistently referred to ‘nationality’.

          True, no worries.

    2. Policies addressing diversity do not necessarily mean implementing quotas.

      1. It does however necessitates discrimination.

        And diverse just means non-white. It’s just anti white racism.

        1. Here we go…

    3. I agree with you so much on this one. It’s like companies should trade competence for diversity and that sounds wrong on so many levels. I’d rather have a successful business with 400 competent white men than a barely surviving one with 200 women and 200 men who are split equally between straight and gay and black, white, hispanic, asian, middle eastern etc.

      Maybe words too strong coming from a 21 year old engineering student but i’ve seen this a lot firsthand and it makes no sense to me whatsoever.

  5. Once again, a very though- provoking and thoughtfully written article; highlighting the real- world challenges to noble and genuine wishes.

  6. Sky F1 needs diversity in its presenting and production staff. They Tweeted a wrap party photo at the end of last season and literally every single member of staff was white and male, bar Natalie Pinkham.

    For what is increasingly become the back-up ‘world feed’ – C4 represents much more diverse, colourful and globally appealing coverage.

    1. Why does it need it?

      Were there candidates from other backgrounds for the positions, who would be superior at the roles than the current members yet were unsuccessful in their bid for the positions?

    2. C4 is also perfectly free to televise and promote grass roots African and Indian motorsports. I imagine the reason it doesn’t is because it wouldn’t be a money maker or glamorous enough which are awkward truths behind even these politcal biased and social condtioner channels.

    3. That explains the incessant Indie music, awful title theme and constant references during commentary to the pub and darts! (David Croft)

      I heard some P Diddy on the C4 coverage the other day. It was gooooooood.

  7. Cracking article. A must-read. The first part of the solution is to start with the reality of the current predicament, and this articulates that perfectly. And as it summarises, things are only going to get worse as the world becomes less and less open.

  8. This article is spot on. I was taken aback by the criticism that followed when Hamiton was posting what I thought was obvious.

  9. I have to say i have a lot of trouble taking Hamilton seriously with this. “Diversity” is currently the go to word and idea to criticize anything and everything. It is a worthy goal only if individuals are being deliberately excluded because of race, creed, color, ethnicity, religion, gender. If there are cases or situations where people have been discriminated against then they must be taken care of immediately. That is the point, what exactly is Lewis referring too and calling for? He was not held back in any way. Mclaren supported him since he was 12 years old because he had shown talent. That is how it should be. Why can’t it just be that racing has the people that want to be involved and that is ok? Many different people have and will get into racing. There is no discrimination going on so leave it alone. Why does it have to be a “problem”? Remember what Lewis said when Nico Rosberg “got caught up” at Mirabeau. That maybe Nico wasn’t penalized because of race. Which is nonsense and childish whining in that situation in modern F1. Least we forget the Nico is not even German spoiled rich kid and Lewis had it hard as a karting kid standing next to Nico coincidentally. For a World Champion making 50 million a year. Lewis has a chip on his shoulder and he runs in circles where if you don’t see discrimination everywhere your a racist. The number one, two, and three barriers to entry in racing are money, money, and money. Even radio control car racing is crazy money.

    1. That is the point, what exactly is Lewis referring too and calling for? He was not held back in any way.

      So because he made it to F1 he’s not allowed to speak about the issue? The only people who are allowed to speak are the ones no one will listen to? Well done.

      There is no discrimination going on so leave it alone

      And you know this how? Let’s not forget Hamilton himself was suffering racial abuse from “fans” at race tracks even as recently as his McLaren F1 days, never mind as a kid in karting. And that’s not mentioning the racist things people on the internet write about him to this day (including comments on this very site that the moderators are at least pretty good at removing). If you are really claiming there is absolutely no discrimination you going to have to provide some serious evidence to back it up.

  10. Instead of just saying we need more diversity why not have the FIA set up a global resource where every Inuit, Tibetan, Jamaican, Sudanese, Native American ect… can apply to do a work placement training program. You can’t go just hiring people based on the color of their skin or sex, they need to be qualified to preform the jobs. Maybe Lew can set an example and sell his private jet and supercars to help just a global resource group to increase the number of qualified minorities.

  11. And once they hold an International Certificate In F1 Wheel Fitting, how or why would they qualify for a work permit in the UK or Italy?

    The point is not they are not qualified or able, but that employment laws exclude them from F1 in most cases.

    1. You only refer to those who reside in countries that requires a visa/work permit… What about those who are citizens of countries that don’t?

      You do know you’ve got people from other ethnic minority groups within the U.K. & other European countries who too would like to work within F1? So why is the crux of your argument centred only on those that you mention?

      Does the same applies to women who would like to be involved in the industry?

      1. You do know you’ve got people from other ethnic minority groups within the U.K. & other European countries who too would like to work within F1?

        That is because they do work in F1, but because they are minorities there are less of them. That’s normal

        1. “That is because they do work in F1, but because they are minorities there are less of them. That’s normal”

          But what kind of do they do? Are any of them mechanics? Engineers? Strategist? Technicians?

          If anything, most will be doing the remedial ancillary work, ie; cleaners, security guards, waiters etc. I don’t think that’s what Hamilton was referring to.

          Everything is and will be done to attract more women (mainly white) into motorsports, but not much will be done to improve diversity.

    2. @dieterrencken However, we also need to look from the government side: if the holder of International Certificate In F1 Wheel Fitting is more than F1 Wheel That Need Fitting, why they shouldn’t prioritize their own people for the job? Are the excuse of “Sorry citizen, the job is the dream job of that guy from other country. So why don’t you find other job or get unemployed.” is acceptable?

      1. I’m not arguing whether they should or shouldn’t prioritise; in fact its logical that they do. I’m merely pointing that out as reason.

    3. @dieterrencken I’m personally against diversity for the sake of trying to so call “even up the numbers.”

      I’m all for the best person for the job. Lets just say this tyre fitter of yours, with no F1 experience, takes over the roll of an experienced team member and gains employment as a wheel man.

      That’s great but why must the experienced person be out of a job for the sake of diversification? What happens the him/her? How do they feel? How do they feed their family?

      The notion of the best person for the job has vaporised in a puff of politically correct smoke.

      It’s happening today in Aviation but in the genders, where males are predominantly pilots. Airlines are pushing to the even up the gender gap which is commendable however when the ratio of male to female pilots flying is approx 85/15 how can any airline expect to reach 50/50 without ruling out more experienced and qualified males? I’ve seen excellent male pilots miss out on jobs that have been filled by females that are simply not as good, have less experience and have had more issues throughout their career (failed sim checks etc). I’ve also seen and met many many fantastic female pilots, so male/female simply shouldn’t be given the push it currently is being given. It simply should be the best person for the job gets the role.

      Isn’t this discrimination?

      Similarly, attempting to diversity for the sake of PC and overlooking more qualified personnel is simply wrong and is actually discrimination against the so called “European looking” men and women of F1.

    4. The point is not they are not qualified or able, but that employment laws exclude them from F1 in most cases.

      Well you know what – TOO BAD!

      Sometimes life sucks, people need to get over it and move on.

      Jesus, first world problems.

      1. Well no @nick101, the issue is exactly that smart ,educated, capable people who aren’t from 1st world countries will not have the same chance of following their dreams to work in F1, because unless their nationality serves as an extra barrier.

        The article does not discuss whether that’s good or bad or unfair, just that it is so.

        You are thus free to not care either way, yet are upset at reading about the facts.Talk about 1st world problems.

  12. I’m sure when Hamilton referred to the lack of diversity in F1, he wasn’t trying to centralise his comments to just those who reside outside of non-EU countries & America.

    F1 was and will continue to be a whiteman’ sport & i doubt we will every see another POC driving a car, being a team principle or in any of the top positions within the sport.

    That’s why Hamilton’ greatest success is not winning WDC’ and the numerous other records he has set, but rather the fact he made it against all odds

    1. F1 was and will continue to be a whiteman’ sport & i doubt we will every see another POC driving a car, being a team principle or in any of the top positions within the sport.

      Like Vijay or Monisha? Like Wherlein? What is a POC btw? does Perez qualify? At what shade? Am I a POC?

      Nationality is a bigger factor than colour, that’s why there are so many british and germans (two of the richest countries in the EU). Can you remember the last time a Portuguese, Italian, Greek, Austrian, Serbian, Czech were in F1, and of those did they have proper machinery? And this are just a few within Europe, imagine around the globe (or around the plane, in case some of you are flat earthers)

      1. Wow! So you throw out 3 names and that somehow invalidates my statement?

        “Can you remember the last time a Portuguese, Italian, Greek, Austrian, Serbian, Czech were in F1, and of those did they have proper machinery? And this are just a few within Europe, imagine around the globe (or around the plane, in case some of you are flat earthers)”

        Look up the term ethnic minority and you’ll realise no one in that group is listed as such.

        1. i doubt we will ever see another POC driving a car, being a team principle or in any of the top positions within the sport.

          Also, since I was diverting the subject to nationality, you can’t just take my comment out of contest to fit your argument.

          But for this discussion to be productive what would you suggest to fix the problem of diversity?

      2. @johnmilk, Monisha is actually a naturalised Austrian citizen, which if anything emphasises the point that Rencken has made about nationality playing a significant part about being able to get into F1.

        It is also worth noting that Monisha has mentioned in the past that, when she first entered the world of F1, some of the other team bosses didn’t treat her with much respect. She recounted how, when she was acting as Sauber’s head of legal affairs, she was holding a meeting with Bernie when another team boss interrupted the meeting. That team boss, upon seeing Kaltenborn there, thought that Kaltenborn was one of Bernie’s secretaries and initially treated her as such until she pointed out whom she actually was.

        As an aside, with regards to your comments about some of the nationalities you refer to – maybe they have been less represented as drivers, but they are usually relatively reasonably well represented in the technical ranks of the sport and, as Rencken notes, he was talking as much about those who work on the cars as much as those who drive them.

        1. Thanks anon for the info about Katelborn.

          I referred to the drivers in response to the other comment.

      3. Italian

        Antonio Giovinazzi. If you don’t consider the Sauber proper machinery, maybe Fisi chasing down RAI for the win in Spa.


        Klien was pretty recent

    2. And I don’t think Lewis was strictly referring to drivers on his Instagram post. He was talking about those team photos dominated by white men. Hamilton did not present any “solution” either, he basically expressed his opinion.

      Being mostly an UK based sport, and because white people constitute the majority in UK it is not shocking to see teams being dominated by white people but some people believe 85-90% white men could be improved with more women and non-whites across the board.

    3. Yes, having his ENTIRE career since age 10 financed and supported by McLaren, one of the biggest and most successful teams in F1 history, and then given a championship winning car in his very first year in F1 is certainly up against it!

      I really don’t know how he overcame all those odds!!

      1. They obviously sponsored him because they saw talent that they were right about

        1. Yes, they were right, and by you agreeing you’re making my point!

          Hamilton faced probably the smallest odds or obstacles getting into F1 than any driver since god knows when!

          You only have to look at another British F1 world champ, Jenson Button (who’s white by the way), to see that. Button and his family were so poor they couldn’t even afford wet weather tires for his kart.

          Clearly one of these two British F1 world champs faced bigger odds getting into F1, and it wasn’t the black one!

          1. Stop telling lies about Button and his family. Jenson’ dad was a successfully rallycross racer and also built engines for go-karts. His dad even sold some to Hamilton.

          2. So you think a rallycross driver who’s best result was runner up in a domestic championship made money in the 70’s?? hahaha! That’s a classic!

            And yes, he did build engines for karts – just to get by.

            Do some research dolt!

  13. F1 should take notes from Ivy League SAT Scores on how to enforced diversity and match actual demography. All black driver time should get cut 0.6 seconds and Hispanic driver at 1.2 seconds. Except for Asian. All Asian driver lap time should be added 1.4 seconds.

    On the working permit solution maybe more Europe country should follow US. All kids that got birth in US are US citizen. All pregnant women from motorsport family could get labour in Europe for better chances in race career later on. It will help the cause while having birth tourism.

    1. @ruliemaulana There are a lot of different laws for how nationality is transmitted in the EU. Some EU nations (France, Republic of Ireland) allow citizenship to be transmitted by birth without any other factor being taken into account (jus soli). Italy also allows it, provided the child born there subsequently remains for a certain number of years – even if remaining was done illegally…

      …though the trick isn’t so much getting a child in the EU to pick up EU nationality. It’s getting allowed into the EU while pregnant, if the pregnant woman is not from the EU and has not already established some pre-accepted motive for being there. Airlines get nervous about flying women who are more than 25 weeks pregnant labour on a plane is – understatement – not fun for anyone involved.

      Other modes of transport can refuse someone who travels while apparently highly pregnant unless they have established some means of paying it. People from EU countries are usually assumed to have EHIC or to be able to arrange some alternative payment if need be, but non-EU people cannot get an EHIC. All EU countries take travel insurance, but most travel insurances don’t cover expected childbirths – only surprise or premature labour – and few non-EU countries have reciprocal agreements that would cover childbirth either. Medical tourism is not generally encouraged in the EU in the first place (with fairly specific exceptions), and the type of medical tourism that potentially opens the way for further social insurance bills is unsurprisingly less popular. More people working in EU industries is seen as positive for F1, but EU nations tend only to see it as positive if it also reduces the numbers of people who are in their domestic unemployment queue.

  14. And then you get people like Darren Heath going off on a rant and singling out Hamilton as somehow ‘exceptionally’ rude, displaying an ‘arrogance’ he has never before seen in Formula 1. As if. That’s how discrimination and racism are perpetuated, by setting down markers that somehow the one black driver in F1 has ‘transgressed’.

    1. I’m no Lewis fan, and often cringe at his behaviour, but that outburst by Heath meant I unfollowed him on social media. Not exactly professional.

    2. Or perhaps it’s perpetuated by people who label anyone who criticises a coloured person as a racist, even though in most cases they can’t possibly know if race had anything to do with it.

      1. I thought I’d pointed to the difference. Calling Hamilton arrogant or whatever is one thing. Marking him out as ‘exceptionally’ so in Formula 1, which is what Heath did, is a strategy of vilification typical to racist attacks and exclusions.

  15. Instead of Euro-centric it will be UK-centric after the brexit!

    I think the best way to increase diversity would be for new teams to be emerge across the globe, not only be based in Europe, but that could also be an headache for travelling all those people.

    1. Is Brexit still a thing? Didn’t UK politician choose to pick a war at Russia based on debatable evidence than doing Brexit?

    2. @johnmilk

      They are the lines I thought along when hearing about Dieter’s Ace Congolese tyre fitter stuck working in a dirty garage unable to get a European visa. There needs to be a local aspiration for him which then leads the chance to appear on the world stage like with say Cricket and Athletics.
      So take billions of dollars out of the coffers and have an F1 championship on each continent. The championship we know today then becomes the European championship (if each local series can afford it by all means still travel to world circuits). We now have an instantly rewarding ‘diverse’ series of races contended by the top 3 or so teams as the world version. Obviously it will be years before they can have the same development resources, this can be solved by giving those teams upgraded or customer cars for the world final. The important thing is the diverse mechanics and drivers.
      It seems to me though that a lot of people in F1 would rather hold on to their wealth. Lewis would surely be as happy on 1 million year salary with the ultimate in diverse sports than 40 million among too many white guys.

      1. @bigjoe look at us, agreeing and everything!

        I wouldn’t say a championship per continent, I think that would be probably a bit too much. But maybe open the rules to allow new teams to enter only a few races for example. Lets say a team based in Japan, first year of their existence and they only want to do the Asian rounds of the championship, that would be fine, as long of course they can qualify within the 107% rule. But as you mention, with customer parts that should be achievable. They could therefore measure their level of interest, and return from that exposure, and probably mount in the upcoming years a full season. This could also bring drivers from those places into the spotlight, and things would eventually scale down and karting track would start to appear, scouts for the young kids that do go to those tracks, race days to evaluate future prospects, etc, etc.

        Opening up the rules to allow teams with only one car could be also a good incentive (while the OCD in me prefers two, just for symmetry reasons, nothing productive really), that would reduce costs, and it is certainly cheaper to upgrade one car over a season than two (they will lose in data gathering, but that would be a small thing).

        There needs to be a local aspiration for him which then leads the chance to appear on the world stage like with say Cricket and Athletics.

        This is spot on, where I live for example there aren’t really high level athletes for basketball or cricket. Of course the solution for this is to create interest on those sports, sending people away to countries where those sports are “famous” and ask for more diversity shouldn’t be the solution.

  16. I think you’re being slightly disingenuous here, Dieter, in trying to blame F1’s lack of diversity entirely on global politics and international migration rules. While undoubtedly true, these factors don’t get anywhere near explaining the sport’s appearance as an almost all-white endeavour.

    Are there any British black or Asian journalists in the media pool following the F1 championship? Is Karun Chandhok it? There wouldn’t be any visa problems for them. How about black French mechanics or Asian engineers from Germany among the teams? There are sizeable numbers of black and minority ethnic people in Europe, yet so few are in F1. How do you account for that? It’s not because they hold the wrong passport, that’s for sure.

    Thank you for raising the diversity issue, because it doesn’t deserve to get lost in the furore over VSCs and Carlos Sainz’s drink bottle. I do think if F1 can make inroads it will help broaden the sport’s appeal, but I don’t hold out a lot of hope for any rapid change when you consider how long it took a handful of women to gain acceptance.

    1. +1 agreed.

      This has nothing to do with immigration or employment laws.

    2. Thank you for your comment because people are to quick to say: “there are Mexicans and Lewis and Pascal are black” and completely ignore the point Lewis was trying to make: even though drivers are the face of the sport, F1 is bigger than that. The same way no body can deny we have a diverse grid, the “backstage” doesn’t match what we see on “the stage”.

      It is a mistake to judge a sport solely on athletes, particularly sports with sizable teams. Entry barriers in F1 for drivers are well known, even though money is a deal breaker (and plays a part on why the grid is more diverse). No big team will pass on talented drivers, i.e., when you are great you will get there, if you good enough and rich you can get there too but if you’re not a driver the story is probably different I guess.

    3. How about black French mechanics or Asian engineers from Germany among the teams?

      I swear I saw a few black guys int he red bull gzarage when VET was still there (actually they might still be there I just don’t notice)

      1. @davidnotcoulthard maybe that is the problem. I too don’t notice what type of person I am looking at when the paddock is being filmed.

        On the minorities subject, I think there are people that represent said minorities working backstage, but because they are minorities there are less of them.

        As I mentioned above, if there were teams scattered around the globe we would see more diversity. For example if a teams sets roots in Abhu Dabhi the minoroty would be white people, so I would expect the team to be formed by locals. Problem is most of the teams are based around the same place, so there is no diversity as they eventually employ people that are located nearby ( Europe has the benefit of the liberty of circulation)

        We started to see more Asians as soon as Honda entered the sport again for example. Maybe we would see more Indians if Force India was based in India.

        It is a complex issue, maybe if the sport was really global regarding the location of the teams we wouldn’t be talking about diversity, because there would be plenty

        1. @johnmilk

          Lewis’ dream of being surrounded by more people like him isn’t going to make F1 more vibrant, as you say teams need to be based at the root of the desired diverse culture. Lewis’ personality traits, the way he has changed, some say arrogance, is purely British, he isn’t diverse.

          The only true diversity currently on display in F1, is a cultural one from a single team not based in the UK. The Italian mechanics (who have some PoC in the past) singing and dancing to their National anthem. Austrian and German? Zilch.
          If it wasn’t for the Italians, F1 would be an even drearier mono-culture, despite having a Black driver and PoC in the backgrounds.
          Even having Spanish and Dutch based teams would change the culture and even the skin tone that Lewis was blatantly looking for.

  17. @dieterrencken

    The Olympic Games is probably the most diverse competition the world has. As are various Athletic Championships.
    Their qualified coaches, doctors, sports scientists/nutritionists and their media seem to have no problems travelling with the sport.

    Formula One can’t pretend to be a word sport or totally diverse until it has equal regional series that feed into a world series.
    To acheive the same kind of diversity, we would need to set up the exact same events to the same rules and regulations on each continent.
    The Congolese tyre fitter then naturally aspires to get employment in ‘F1 Africa’. He or his peers then appear in the global event as say part of the top 3 teams entering into the world series. Lewis’s instagram photos will now be palatable (with the exception I talk about later) Their Visas would presumably work as per other world sporting events involving every continent for the last century, but be valid for months rather than weeks. Indian, West Indies, Pakistan Cricket tours?

    If Lewis or others really want to talk about discrimination, in this glamorous entertainment industry, let’s talk about why my two intelligent, well mannered, qualified, hard working imaginary ugly daughters always get turned down when applying for customer and media facing, PR and assistant roles in F1. In favour of the attractive women, usually very apparant in Lewis’ instagram posts.
    Would Lewis and Mercedes happily swap their attractive assistants, media PR advertising women for those who are a bit overweight, have awkward heads of hair and crooked teeth? Of course they wouldnt. F1 is about money and beauty sells.

    1. @bigjoe Those people (athlete, doctors, etc) are part of the contingent of the competitors. Most journalist, especially from private media, aren’t. The correct analogy is to compare if there’s an official team personnel (engineers, cooks, PR, etc) that also regularly has visa problem. A long line for immigration check maybe, but I doubt they’ll have any problem having their visa published.

      Also you need to read what Lewis said more carefully. He talk to the kid, saying there’s a place for them in F1. He’s actually saying your two intelligent, well mannered, qualified, hard working imaginary ugly daughters can make it and fit in. Well, probably not as media facing, but there’s so many job in the sport – his words not mine.

    2. What on earth does overweight ugly people with awkward heads of hair and crooked teeth have to do with a call for diversity? Are you unconsciously suggesting what i am thinking here?

      1. @kbdavies

        No. You didnt read my post properly. You can’t get a job in parts of F1 ‘a glamorous entertainment’ industry if you’re not attractive.
        If youre sick enough in the head to suggest Im saying PoC are unattractive from that, you couldnt be further from the truth. Again I said ‘paint everyone the same colour and this discrimination still exists’
        It exists on TV channels with news presenters and actors who complain loudly about various other discrimination including equal pay yet weather girls news readers etc are selected by attractivness.

        Lewis Hamilton by the way has drastically changed his looks to to hang around with beautiful people and allegedly complains about the size/weight of his ex girlfriend. He predominantly photographs himself on intstagram with pretty women (where he also met his ex) Very selective for someone who wants F1 to appear as diverse as many UK Town centres now.

  18. A laudable topic and effort, I think, but a few points.

    Setting aside some historical inaccuracies…

    This paragraph, which starts with the example of Althea Gibson, while accurate is also a little unnecessary. Having a single exception to a rule generally proves the rule. From that one example, if it took from Althea Gibson all the way to Venus and Serena for there to be a female African American grand slam winner, that proves the point.

    Further, stating that

    …F1 as a sport is unable to heed his calls until, first and foremost, the European geopolitical situation changes…

    seems a bit of a strawman argument. Diversity in F1 does not require that everyone in Bangladesh who is interested in working in F1, for example, be allowed to live and work in the UK/EU. Yes, it might be good if countries recognised that allowing immigration is not a bad thing–but that is another argument for another day and likely another blog. What about the FIA, F1, F1 teams, and motorsport categories in general being more open to different types of people? Be open to girls and women, be open to people no matter what they look like, be open to people who are not wealthy.

    Yes there are social and economic barriers to finding ways to be more inclusive at every level, starting at the lowest (karting?). Grow diversity within countries, within categories of motorsport, and allow cross-pollination. Finding ways to get around barriers as well as remove them should be the goal, in my opinion, not waiting until countries have more open borders.

    1. Very well said. And a good article from Dieter too.

  19. This was a fantastic and thought provoking article, and it really reminded me of how Europe-centric F1 still is, despite the constant chirping of “it’s a global sport”. And sadly, the main issue with making F1 more diverse is that in most cases, addressing the issue in the short term will only make it look like forced diversity, and that tends to please nobody. It will obviously offend those who don’t think diversity is an issue because they’ll claim that F1 is limiting the amount of candidates for whatever jobs are offered based solely on race, nationality, and ethnicity, and that there are people more qualified for the job that aren’t given a chance, and those who do strive for diversity will say that it’s being used as nothing more than a marketing gimmick, and that F1 doesn’t actually care about the issue.

    The best way to go about improving diversity, at least in my opinion, sadly won’t produce immediate results. However, it could lead to huge amounts of growth in mostly untapped markets and make F1 a truly global sport. If the FIA and teams were to begin establishing academy racing series and training programs around the world, there’s the potential for a huge influx of new talent, both on and off track, to enter the sport, as well as new fans following. It could give people opportunities to learn and compete in a place that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. It could easily take 5 or more years for the results to become apparent, but it would certainly do more to make F1 truly diverse rather than the FIA or a team hiring one or two people and saying “Look who we just hired! See how diverse we are?”

  20. Quote: ‘Their qualified coaches, doctors, sports scientists/nutritionists and their media seem to have no problems travelling with the sport.’

    Mercedes has 500 back room heads per atlete, and I doubt any Olympic team comes close to that number, plus Olympic staff travel once in 4 years, not every 14 days. There are also many recorded instances of media being refused visas.

    1. And what percentage of that 500 are from an ethnic minority group?

  21. GtisBetter (@)
    28th March 2018, 15:07

    Great read!

  22. One thing I like from what Lewis said is he’s encouraging people to try, not demanding FIA or other organization di be diverse. Some people just seemed to not understand that supporting diversity isn’t the same as demanding a quota to fill.

    Overall this is a good article (as usual from @dieterrencken) explains why it’s not anyone fault that F1 is not diverse yet. The rules are there to protect the country’s own citizen – as it should be. My understanding of why most F1 teams based in UK is because the proximity to Silverstone, which used a lot for testing back in old days where testing is unlimited. A side effect of that is of course now most desirable personnel for F1 team lived in UK. However, as now private testing is prohibited, the circuit proximity reason is gone. What I think is: one of the easiest thing to evade the foreign labor law is to encourage new billionaires who want to join F1 party to base his team on his own country. Of course the operational cost most likely will be more expensive, but maybe FOM can subsidize some of the transport fees or something.

  23. @sonicslv

    “My understanding of why most F1 teams based in UK is because the proximity to Silverstone, which used a lot for testing back in old days where testing is unlimited.”

    Silverstone, like many of UK’s race circuits, used to be an RAF base when the country was fighting for its life in the Battle of Britain (before the USA joined WW2) there are loads of them, which became natural places to thrash about and test high performance vehicles.

    Britain’s world leading industrial age led to its once big motor industry and war capabilty. Without these ingrediants it would have unlikey been dominant in motorsports and motorsport engineering.

    1. @bigjoe Yeah I’m aware of that. But if we look at the circumstances now, the extra cost required to base a F1 team outside of UK is much less than 15 years ago. A family man like most people in F1 that we know now maybe not interested in moving out of UK, but lot young engineering protégé (and maybe not even from European countries) should’ve happy to move to random country chasing their dream to be in F1.

      1. @sonicslv

        A lot of it is experience and getting that experience to filter down to new staff. Learning off the old boys would have been invaluable.

        Mercedes Classic sent their W196 (Fangio’s awesome sounding straight 8) to have its engine overhauled in the UK, which seems ridiculous.
        This was at the old Ilmor factory which is close to Cosworth. How do you replicate the foundations of those two and their experience and logistical reach in Germany? Hence why Merc bought Ilmor.


        1. A lot of it is experience and getting that experience to filter down to new staff. Learning off the old boys would have been invaluable.

          @bigjoe Yup, this is exactly what I try to imply by singling out the personnel pooling in UK problem.

  24. Kigali is not in Congo btw, it’s the capital of Rwanda.

    1. I am aware of Africa’s geopolitical landscape, and Congolese refers to people from:
      Congo Basin
      Republic of the Congo
      Democratic Republic of the Congo

      Rwanda, and thus Kigali, falls within the region known as Congo Basin.

      1. No, @dieterrencken, you’re wrong. The term ‘Congolese’, when used to refer to people, is used exclusively for natinals of either the Democratic Republic of Congo (Zaire) or the neighbouring Republic of Congo.
        There’s no usage of ‘congolese’ to refer to people outside of that definition. People from Rwanda are always referred to either as Rwandese or Rwandans. ‘Congolese’ is not an ethnicity, it’s a nationality. There’s an ethnic community called ‘BaKongo” in Western DRC, RoC and northern Angola after whom the two Congos are named, but that ethnic moniker is NEVER used to refer to nationality (a member of the ethnicity is always called ‘mkongo’, a Congolese national is always called mkongomani – mainly outside DRC – or mwanakongo in DRC, more typically just mwanamboka, meaning son of the soil).

  25. I enjoyed reading your thoughts very much. I think the big topic boils down to the question of what diversity is? Is it ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or sexual identity? Is it political orientation, education, economic situation, talent or nationality? Maybe even disabilities? All, some, none of these things or maybe it isn´t even closely definable?

    The specific topic of working visas are (as mentioned) far beyond the scope of formula 1, and the argument of a possible indian or south african f1 team with predominantly indian or south african tyre fitters could also be raised.

    Is asking the question of who is more diverse, a british heterosexual woman with a darker than avarage skin color or a south african homosexual man with a brighter than avarage skin color even a legitimate one?

    Your article raises more questions than it gives answers and i regard that as a compliment.

    Asking those questions is, in my humble opinion, an important one in our day and age, but i have serious doubts that formula 1 capable of giving serious answers… considering they dont even seem to be able to produce a diverse championship, where lets say 25% of the drivers have a shot @ the championship without making a single mistake all year.

  26. Excellent article from @RacingLines as usual. It is interesting to realize that the entire F1 business is very much contained in four countries: UK, Italy, France, Switzerland. Soon enough, only two of these will be part of the EU…the others a fiercely patriotic mountain enclave, and an island. Does not look like much of opening-up is in store anytime soon.

    1. Yes, and of the current 10 teams, 2,5 will then operate out of the EU – Ferrari, STR and half of Haas – and 6,5 out of UK and 1 out of Switzerland.

      1. Though McLarewas reported to have a division set up in Spain recently,if I recall correctly @dieterrencken

        1. I am only aware of McLaren opening a car sales showroom in Barcelona recently, not any F1-related operation. McLaren Racing and McLaren Automotive are separate legal entities, as I pointed out here: https://www.racefans.net/?s=Neale

  27. This is not rocket science. If the FIA can implement programs and incentives to encourage more women into the sport, then they can do the same for black and ethnic minorities.

    It is simply a matter of priorities.

    1. The issue is that there are no laws against women competing/working in motorsport wherever they are able, but there are laws prohibiting ‘foreigners’ from working in certain countries, and F1 teams happen to be based in these.

      So it’s not a matter of priorities, but of legalities.

      1. So aren’t women foreigners too? Immigration & employment law does not apply to women? So what about locally born members of ethnic minority groups who would like to work in F1? Why do you keep centralising on only those who resides outside of these countries & thus would require the necessary documents to work?

        1. Probably because for most ethnicities, the proportion in EU countries is lower than the proportion in the world as a whole… …and in some cases, the proportion plausibly carrying the necessary skill is also higher on a worldwide level than within the EU countries specifically. The most obvious examples would be Americans and Canadians, but they’ve hardly cornered the market on that one.

      2. @dieterrencken, this is a valid question KGN11 is asking below –

        Why do you keep centralising on only those who resides outside of these countries & thus would require the necessary documents to work?

        There are enough black people and ethnic minorities in the UK; and they are still not represented in F1. It is not like there are any legal issues barring them from working in F1. And what about their under representation in Karting and subsequently getting into Formula 1 racing itself? Is that also a legal issue? After all, that particular facet of the problem regarding women is being given a lot of attention/ resources and addressed by the FIA

        This is the pink Elephant in the room, and i am surprised you keep sidestepping it to focus on the immigration perspective which really has a negligible effect on what is being discussed here.

        1. First, please don’t accuse me of side-stepping anything – this column treads where other publications fear to tread, and for that I thank Keith for his editorial courage.
          Second, I did state that there were minorities working in F1, but that these were individuals with the correct passport colour.
          Third, as @johnmilk pointed out, ethnic minorities will by definition always be in the minority – what could I possibly add to such logic.
          Fourth, WiMS initiatives are aimed encouraging women to enter motorsport as many aren’t aware of the (equal) opportunities. Employment laws have nothing to do with that.
          Finally, last time I looked there were plenty of folk from ethnic minorities working in responsible positions in F1 – provided they had the right passport colour, which is the crux of the matter. If @KGN11 knows of any transgressions he is entitled to pursue legal options in those jurisdictions.

          1. Your entire argument is centred on immigration

          2. I am not arguing at all, but I am expressing my opinions which centre around real world legalities. I cannot be any clearer than that. There are women working in F1 in very responsible and skilled positions, there are people from ethnic minorities working in F1 in very responsible and skilled positions, there are people with various personal challenges working in responsible positions in F1 – but the point is: they hold the correct legal papers to do so. For that matter, I have also seen ethnic “locals” working in menial positions within F1 – that’s life.

          3. However your continuous reference to correct papers, relates to immigration & ignores domiciled & naturalised citizens who too would like to work in F1.

  28. These teams are European so the diversity should firstly come from within the teams homelands IMO.

    Personally I don’t see diversity as a goal. I see it mainly as a consequence of changing demographics within countries. But being an elite sport this can take a lot of time.

  29. Diversity, or any other noble idea of fairness and freedom, must first exist as an idea, a worthy goal in the hearts and minds of those who wish for it to be true universally. The idea must grow and be accepted into cultural practices. Cultural practices to a great degree can push governments into legislative actions allowing for cultural practices to be accepted officially removing barriers against diversity.

    I think this is what Lewis Hamilton is thinking about. When we look across the paddock there is little diversity. But, in many of the varied F1 venues around the world there is more diversity than in the paddock. I imagine the wish would be for F1 to look more like a blend of the diversity from the world venues when one looks around the paddock. To me, this is one of the great potential benefits of Formula 1 as an international series. It already is a showcace that can bring different nationalities and cultures together. Again, I imagine the wish is for it to increase on that idea in every way possible.

    Here in the states I’ve heard people dismiss F1 as a racing series merely because it is not “American”. And even not so long ago the same attitude expressed about IndyCar because there were no U.S. drivers. Now we have a huge nationalist push by some in the states against immigration and diversity. This movement thrives on fear, uncertainty and doubt based on nationality, skin color and religious differences. These attitudes appear to be gaining momentum in parts of the world. This is what the goal of diversity and humanity is up against when it comes to removing or lowering the barriers against diversity. The large elephant in the room so to speak.

    The barriers are great, but the goal of diversity is worthy. I truly believe that most people in the world are kind and more alike than different regardless of nationality, race or religion. The ones that are not can certainly make life challenging, difficult, or worse, for those who are.

    So, I applaud Lewis for speaking out about diversity and his hopes for the future. There is more that F1 can do besides the FIA having a clause. They can actively promote and encourage all to participate in any way possible in the international spectacle that is F1.

    Thank you, @dieterrencken for an excellent, thoughtful and thought provoking article.

  30. joe pineapples
    28th March 2018, 19:00

    Diversity?. All that dancing in the pit-lane, they’d never get anything else done.

    1. Ironically, that Diversity has a better chance of being in F1 than the other variety (at least, the nationality version Dieter is mostly talking about here).

  31. I don’t imagine that for people who aren’t fortunate enough to possess a passport that makes international movement as straightforward as say a UK passport holder, the difficulty of making it in the world of F1 is high up on their list of lifes problems.

    I really dislike tokenism, like somehow having a varied group of ethnicities in a fringe activity like F1 somehow makes everything ok for the other 7 billion people currently striving for a modest life.

    1. @philipgb For most of them, it probably isn’t, if only because the majority of people, even with travel rights, work entirely in the country whose passport they hold (or would hold if they had a passport in the first place). However, for that handful who would want to and have the skills for such a desire to benefit F1 or its European-based feeder series… …not being able to succeed in that ambition due to having the wrong passport would become rather important for them and somewhat so for F1.

      1. @alianora-la-canta

        And I would like to work and live in say, Australia for example. But I’m not lucky enough to have the right passport.

        There are lots of unfortunate barriers in the way of many things many people would like to do for entirely practical reasons.

  32. Great article, one I can relate to somewhat. My first race was at Silverstone in 2006 and I remember as a 10 year old back then thinking that my dad and myself might be the only non-white people in the crowd. Lewis was someone I has heard of, being a McLaren junior, but it wasn’t until seeing him on the podium after winning in GP2 (twice) that thought ‘Oh cool that guy is black!’. He has always been someone I admire in that he is himself and does not feel the need to fit a required F1 driver template. I have dreamed of working in F1 for as long as I can remember, having graduated last summer I’ve been trying to apply to F1 and motorsport teams as well as the automotive industry. I know I have it better than others who were not born in the UK but my target has always been to be part of the F1 circus regardless if I don’t look like I fit a typical template.

  33. Great article Dieter

  34. Giselle Mitton
    28th March 2018, 21:28

    Great analysis but there is a more fundamental question that you seemed to have overlooked which I believe is as the heart of Hamilton’s question, namely how about just seeing more people of color or women from the three countries you mentioned or EC member states in general ? Surely they are not facing the insurmountable obstacles you painstakingly outlined in your rather patronizing piece on what is a legitimate question. Look at the recent photo of the FIA team posted prior to the start of the season. See what I mean, just a group of “white”guys….

  35. This is really good and utterly true. While some forms of diversity could plausibly be tackled simply by removing internal real and perceived boundaries (gender expression), and others by the sort of barrier reduction F1 could feasibly help with (gender), the issue of nationality is largely outside F1’s control. The only thing I can think of that would help is to have teams operating in areas where people without European passports can travel. Of course, there are good finance-based reasons why this doesn’t happen already…

  36. Well I think the Formula 1 teams should be free to choose who they pick. From the designers, to the engineers ,the mechanic, and then the “simple” tyre changers, they are all top of the line. I don’t understand why everything has to be looked at from the perspective of race (or gender, sexuality, etc). If you were to watch an NBA or NFL game, you won’t see much diversity either.

    Sure, there are some economic barriers in Formula 1, and that’s especially when it comes to people from other countries trying to join a team, but the UK, US, France, even Italy are diverse societies and there are citizens of those countries coming from all kinds of different backgrounds.

    And no, I don’t feel Hamilton is sincere or noble. It’s more of the same old victimhood prizm that everyone is forced to look through.

    1. It may only be part of the equation, but it is a part. And it is the nature of F1’s fandom to leave as little of the series as possible in an unexamined state.

  37. What chance does a youngster in Kigali who dreams of being of being Hamilton’s right rear tyre fitter have of obtaining a work permit to work for the team, or obtain visas to travel the world?
    Heck, the poor kid can’t even obtain a UK visitor visa without shelling out thousands and answering reams of questions even before the cost of his air fare is factored into the equation.

    God. This is so true. :(
    Very interesting points raised.

  38. I understand exactly what @dieterrencken is referring to.

    From personal experience, the colour of your passport is more important than anything else in an international industry.

    I work in the energy business as an engineer with a relatively niche skillset. I had to leave my country of birth and adopt residency/citizenship in a western country to gain wage parity and general peer recognition for doing the same job. Sad but true.

    So its not a fair world, and the system is such. You can’t fight the system and hope to change it on its head, however, the system can evolve and it is evolving in a way.

    You have to play the system depending on your circumstances (as I’ve done, but I was very lucky), but thats easier said than done for many talented people around the world.

    Diversity has to be fostered organically, it will not work otherwise.

  39. If it bothers Hamilton so much, why dosent he spend his millions sponsoring young ethnically diverse drivers himself?
    He could start his own young driver program with the money he saves on tax while living in Monaco.

    1. If someone had done than in Lewis’ era there would have been an even quicker driver in his place. Motorsport casts a very small net for talent let alone gender and ethnic background.

  40. F1 teams currently operate out of three countries – UK, Italy and Switzerland

    I must be missing something here. Doesn’t Red Bull operate from Austria and Renault from France?

    1. They OPERATE out of Milton Keynes and Enstone respectively, both of which are in UK. Location of base and country of entrant licence issuance are separate issues, but the team must operate within the laws of the country in which it is based.

      1. @dieterrencken: Quite interesting. Do you know why that interest in operating in the UK? It seems like separating the operations base from the entrant’s country should lead to increased costs and other disadvantages. I guess there must it must create some big benefit that offsets any disadvantages.

    2. @alonshow In the same sense that Force India operates out of India. The lack of actual Indians in Force India can be attributed to the fact that its base is in Silverstone – which has been a British base proudly boasting various forms of non-British marketing for the past 27 years. This also explains why the change from Midland to Spyker did not cause a mass exodus of Russian talent – because apart from the Russian leaders who had been there on a Tier 1 “high-value” visa, and a couple of marketing people (who may have been on assignment from their parent company and got a temporary visa that way), Russians were permanently assigned to the team at the time the transfer of ownership occurred.

  41. YellowSubmarine
    29th March 2018, 9:11

    Well, Kigali is in Rwanda, not Congo.
    But the point of the article is well-made.

    1. See above:
      Congolese refers to people from:
      Congo Basin
      Republic of the Congo
      Democratic Republic of the Congo

      Rwanda, and thus Kigali, falls within the region known as Congo Basin.

  42. I come from a developing country (Macedonia) and study in a first world country who’s part of the EU (Austria), currently doing a bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering with the aim to one day enter F1. I’ve tried applying for the Infiniti Engineering Academy for 2 years in a row now and i can’t because my nationality isn’t listed there because it would be too much of a hastle for them to help me get a visa if i were to win a spot among the 7 people who’d win. Despite my obvious competence, Renault wouldn’t be willing to employ me based solely on my nationality and while i don’t find that discriminating, i find it sad and can’t really blame anyone but global politics. This article hits home for me and the worst part is that there’s a lot of other people who are in the same position as i am, and arguably a better fit for F1 than me personally. There isn’t much that any of the teams or the FIA can do about it, it all depends on the countries where we’re from and the general picture and situation of global politics. Speaking from firsthand experience here.

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