What does it mean to be a gamechanger? “It’s about standing up, speaking out, and never stopping until the job is done.” Hamilton has always embodied the ethos and outlook of AMG, and in-turn, the spirit of both the brand and the driver is rooted in pushing to be the best version of yourself.
It feels like calling Lewis Hamilton a gamechanger is an understatement. Throughout his career, his name has become synonymous with success, inspiration, and for standing up for what you believe in. And even he says being outspoken in the past has landed him in trouble a few times, but what’s important is to not linger on those moments in the past, but instead, figure out how you can make real change in the present, in order to change the future. And that’s exactly what he does. Through his always-on attitude and complete dedication to determination, Hamilton has always embodied the ethos and outlook of AMG, and in-turn, the spirit of both the brand and the driver is rooted in pushing to be the best version of yourself you can be.
On the track, Hamilton’s legendary status and career has rightly propelled him into the hot seat as a global inspiration for children and adults alike. With 7 World Drivers Championships under his belt (levelled only with Michael Schumacher) and holding the number for the most race wins (103), the world class racing driver has reached a point in his career that is characterised by slight liberation – the ability to be unapologetically him, and to be his authentic self.
“A gamechanger to me is someone that doesn’t do things the way it’s always been done,” he says. “It’s about raising the bar, doing it differently, being different, being who you are, being outspoken, staying true to values, not backing down when pressure is applied, never giving up, always pushing through, even when you stumble. And, that fierce pursuit of the impossible, or what seems impossible. That’s what you’ve seen with all of the greats who have changed the game.”
Off the racetrack, Hamilton has become a fighter for social justice. From his commitment in supporting the LGBTQIA+ community, for example, with his ‘We Stand Together’ helmet, to his vital work with Mission 44 – a charity launched by the driver which stems from his fight for social change. Through grants, research and advocacy, Mission 44’s goal is to support young people from underserved backgrounds to succeed, with the charity already using partnerships to tackle issues such as disproportionate behaviour management practises in schools and the lack of Black teachers across England and Wales.
So, what does it mean to be a gamechanger? Read our full interview with Lewis Hamilton below to find out…
Who or what has been your biggest inspiration both in racing and when you were growing up?
In life, I was always inspired by my dad, and in racing by Ayrton Senna. I used to come home and watch him race, and I was inspired by how he drove. I was inspired by Nelson Mandela, and how he stood up for things he believed in, and the compassion that he was able to show given the difficult times he went through. Otherwise, I was fuelled by all the challenging things that were happening in my life, the things that have been said to me, and being singled out. I just channelled that into my driving.
When it came to me speaking out in 2020, I'd had enough of seeing what was happening. Obviously, we all saw George Floyd's death, that for me was the boiling point. I was not going to stand still and just not say anything. It's going to take all of us coming together and acknowledging that there is a problem for the problem to be fixed. For those that are continuing to stay silent, I was like, ‘call them out and let him know that I see you’. And then all of a sudden, people started reacting. I think I've always generally been an outspoken person, and it's got me in trouble a lot of the time.
It's difficult for some people, in the roles they're in, they’re worried they’re going to lose their job by speaking out for what they believe in. Sometimes there are a lot of people that are complicit, like bosses in corporations that don't want you to speak up. But I think we've always got to put the human element first. And being bold and being brave, speaking up and taking that risk for a much bigger cause than yourself is one of the most selfless things that you can do. Of course, I'm in a different position to some people. I have championships and I've had success, but I think I've generally been saying stuff since the beginning. I suppose I’m getting more and more confident as I get older, and more willing to risk everything.
Is that an ambition? To instil confidence in younger people to speak out and stand up for what they believe in?
I know I do have some young kids watching who follow me. I’ve tried to highlight certain things that I'm discovering and learning along the way. Maybe you can post one thing and it can encourage that person to go down that career line, because it taps into something they're passionate about that they maybe didn't even realise they were passionate about. But also, when you stumble or fall, how you get back up and just show how to keep going – stuff like that just helps people. So that's what I try to do.
And talk to us about Mission 44 and what it sets out to achieve…
Mission 44 is just a part of my journey. We're always learning and coming together, because a more diverse workforce is proven to be beneficial. And then focusing on impact and how we can really drive change within the education system and within our industry, getting everyone to get on board.
What do you want the future of racing to look like?
Initially, people were thinking that what I was saying was about having another Black driver. It’s not just about drivers. There's 1000s of jobs in the background. So, it’s seeing a more diverse workforce in these other teams. I hope in the next 5-10 years, when you're looking at the pictures at the end of the season, you see 100 people on the grid for each team, you zoom in and see more diversity, more women, more ethnic minorities within the team. If there's more young engineers coming through STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths) subjects going to university hired from other universities, not just one singular group of universities that is not particularly diverse, that's what I'm hoping to see change.