Lewis Hamilton feels chances for working class families to be successful in racing has become “a lot worse” since he progressed through the junior ranks and wants to help both the FIA and Formula 1 to produce grassroot setups and greater opportunities.

Speaking on the BBC’s The Graham Norton Show, Hamilton reflected on the challenges he and his family faced when he first started racing before being signed by Ron Dennis at McLaren when he was 13.

Hamilton fears racing and Formula 1 has become an even more exclusive sport only accessible to “rich and wealthy families” due to costs and wants to work with its governing bodies to create change.

“It has got a lot worse. My dad spent something like £20,000 and re-mortgaged the house several times in our first years,” Hamilton said. “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 1. 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 1 but got leapfrogged by a wealthy kid and then his opportunity was gone. So I do want to, somehow, bring it back to basics.”

Reflecting on his own junior racing days, the six-time F1 world champion says he solely concentrated on his racing despite having inferior machinery but accepts without his father’s efforts and Ron Dennis his career may not have come to fruition.

“I had a rusty, old go-kart, it was fifth hand and bought from a newspaper [advert],” he said. “It was bent and rusty and we arrived at my first race at Rye House and everyone stopped at 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.”

 

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