Lewis Hamilton says motor racing has become even more difficult for youngsters from underprivileged backgrounds to break into.
Hamilton often talks about his rags-to-riches story, having grown up on a Stevenage council estate before becoming the second-most successful F1 driver of all time, with 83 grand prix wins and six world championships to his name. The Mercedes driver, who made his F1 debut in 2007, thinks opportunities have decreased since he’s been at the top level of the sport.
“It has got a lot worse,” he said on the BBC’s “Graham Norton Show.” “My dad spent something like £20,000 and re-mortgaged the house several times in our first years. But today it has gotten so expensive, so there are very few or no working class families on their way up. It is all rich and wealthy families.
“I want to get involved and work with the FIA and Formula One. They can do more to give back, I would say, and it also doesn’t need to be as expensive as that. I want to get it opened up.
“If you look at football and tennis, there are grassroots. I’ve got a friend of mine who was nearly in Formula One but got leapfrogged by a wealthy kid and then his opportunity was gone. So I do want to, somehow, bring it back to basics.”
Hamilton used his appearance on the show to praise the importance of his father and former manager, Anthony.
“I had a rusty, old go-kart, it was fifth hand and bought from a newspaper. It was bent and rusty, and we arrived at my first race at Rye House and everyone stopped and looked. But my dad always said do your talking on the track. So that’s what I would go and do. I think I won my first few races, and I loved it so much that my dad said if I worked hard at school, ‘I will do whatever I can’ to keep me racing.
“He had four jobs, anything that could pay him to be able to fuel the car up, buy new tyres, and there were times along the way when I’d come home from school and said I was ready to go but he said we ‘didn’t have the money this weekend, so hopefully by the next race I will have the money to keep us going.’
“My dad is the real hero, I am just the one in the spotlight. But if my dad hadn’t have done the work he did and if I didn’t get signed when I was 13 by Ron Dennis, then I wouldn’t be in front of you today, as I’d be doing something different.”