Last year, Mercedes and Hamilton - the first and only black driver in F1 history - launched Ignite, a joint charitable initiative to support greater diversity and inclusion in motorsport. 

Ahead of this weekend’s British Grand Prix, the Ignite partnership announced its first charitable grants for Motorsport UK and the Royal Academy of Engineering, who will each receive over £500,000 to support programmes focused on increasing female participation in grassroots motorsport and on engineering scholarships for black students. 

Can Verstappen Get REDEMPTION At Silverstone? | 2022 F1 British Grand Prix

Hamilton has made a personal pledge of £20million as part of his Mission 44 charitable foundation which is leading on coordination of the initiative. 

On Thursday, Mercedes announced that long-time sponsor IWC Schaffhausen is to auction off the last piece from Wolff’s limited edition IWC watch collection - which retails at £58,000 - with the proceeds going to the Ignite initiative. 

“I think what we’ve launched, we’ve put the money where our mouth is,” Wolff said. 

“We have put $6.2million into Ignite, that Lewis personally committed and the team.

“So it’s not small. And then we have partners like IWC with an immediate reaction – ‘OK, I’m part of this, the first thing we’re going to do is we’re going to take one watch, we’re going to auction it, and this goes right into Ignite’. And for sure, it’s not the last thing we’ve done together in that project.

“It’s not only talking, especially putting money in and setting standards that hopefully others will follow.

“Because we are so much in our little microcosmos here, everybody from the other teams in their little pursuit, but we’ve got to do something. This is a global platform and we need to utilise it.”

Asked if he feels there is a need for the rest of the F1 community to do more, Wolff replied: “I think so, yes, because each of us can make a contribution. 

“We are in a sport that generates billions of dollars of revenue and hundreds of millions of revenue for each of the teams.

“The drivers are multi-times millionaires, and everybody’s, like, hiding away, when we should be role models and saying we are actually really doing something rather than saying ‘we are working on it. And yes, we are against discrimination and we are against racism’.

“That’s great, but you can afford it. You can do something that’s really meaningful. And I think it needs one that goes ahead. Lewis’ commitment was £20m into Mission 44. 

“What we’re doing here is real money. And I think that hopefully we can trailblaze for the community overall in doing something.

“Because I’m not aware, apart from Instagram posts, [that] anybody’s done anything else.”

The announcement came at the end of a week that has been dominated by the recent Nelson Piquet and Juri Vips controversies. 

In an interview that emerged this week, three-time F1 world champion Piquet used racially offensive language when referring to Hamilton. 

The 69-year-old has faced widespread condemnation from the motorsport community for his remark and has since issued an apology to Hamilton. 

IWC CEO Chris Grainger-Herr said the idea to auction the watch was planned in advance of the events of the past week and underlined IWC’s support for Hamilton. 

“If we don’t actively pursue that, nothing is going to change,” Grainger-Herr said. 

“Because we’ll all turn around and say we don’t actively discriminate, we don’t do this, we don’t do that. But ultimately, if we don’t put the firepower and the funds and the human resource behind bringing about change it’s not going to happen.

“I think a project like that which gives visibility, but where every single cent in the end goes into the charitable foundation, that hopefully makes a little bit easier that job of bringing about change that Lewis is quite rightly fighting for every day.”