When Lewis Hamilton became the Formula 1 Champion he may have been a role model for young disaffected youth in this country. Followers of Formula 1 and fans of Hamilton will no doubt have observed the continued complaints from other drivers and the sustained attack from stewards during most of the races leading up to Hamilton winning the championship and following that first win. It is apparent that the drivers and the stewards were ensuring that Hamilton would never achieve a ‘back to back’ win.
Like Tiger Woods in golf, Hamilton owes a great deal to the encouragement and support of his father. Like Tiger Woods, Hamilton is the first (I don’t know how he describes his ethnicity) to win Formula 1. When Hamilton appeared on the scene it said something positive about racing in Britain. But the backlash from Hamilton’s driving competitors and from the stewards speaks volumes for their attitude to this driver.
If we look at the teams that prepare the cars for the races, for Lotus, Red Bull, McLaren, Virgin, etc. what is their makeup? It is pointless showing us a team from Force India – India to my knowledge will play host for the first time this year. I’m looking at Europe.
Do we have mechanics – or anyone in these teams – who are Indian, African, African-Caribbean? Is there a mechanic? An electrical engineer? Someone washing the cars? Pumping air into the tyres?
In South Africa under 50 years of apartheid – they had a name for it. They called it ‘Job Reservation’. There were jobs reserved for different races (not motor racing, but human races.) African girls went to school and on their desks were placed tin baths in which they practiced washing laundry, preparing for a life of being housemaids who would wash clothes. There were jobs non-whites could not aspire to. The highly-respected universities in South Africa accepted ten non-whites into their medical faculties. Non-whites could not become mechanics, nor electrical engineers.
Here we have buses driven by African-Caribbean men. Nurses tend to be from the Caribbean. Corner shops are run by Asians. This appears to be a kind of job reservation, here except that it is not enshrined in law. South Africa practised racism and was protected by the law. Here non-whites are protected from racism by the law, but racism can be practised covertly expecially in the field of employment.
What racism does when it is subtle, is to erode self-confidence. This is what I have observed has been done to Lewis Hamilton.
While we may have observed some drivers obstructing Hamilton in order for the driver of their choice to make progress, I have not observed a single driver working with Hamilton, not even in his own team.
I would encourage students of media studies who are also followers of Formula 1 and fans of Hamilton to review the footage of past races and see if you too observe the change in Hamilton since he arrived on the scene in Formula 1.