LONDON, United Kingdom, Nov 24 – Lewis Hamilton is tired of seeing wealthy young drivers leapfrog their financially challenged rivals on the road to entering Formula 1.
The six-time World Champion, who was born and raised in a working-class family in Stevenage, England, says it’s now nearly impossible for someone from his background to make it into F1.
Earlier this year Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel made similar claims, saying his career would have ended pretty quickly if junior racing had have back then cost what it does now.
Speaking on the Graham Norton show, Hamilton said: “My dad spent something like £20,000 and remortgaged the house several times in the first years. But today it’s just got so expensive.
“There are very few, if [any] working-class families on their way up. It’s all wealthy families.
“I’ve got a friend of mine who was nearly in Formula 1 and then he got leapfrogged by a wealthy kid and then his opportunity was gone. So I do want to somehow get it back to basics.”
Hamilton would be signed by Ron Dennis at age 13, taking the pressure off his dad to find the money to fund his career, but nonetheless, Hamilton credits his father Anthony as the “hero” of his story, while he’s “just the one that’s in the spotlight”.
“There were times along the way when I’d come home from school and I’m like ‘I’m ready to go’ and [dad would] be like ‘sorry, we don’t have the money this weekend but hopefully by next race we’ll have the money to keep us going’. So my dad’s the real hero, I’m just the one that’s in the spotlight,” he explained.
“If my dad hadn’t done the work he did and if I didn’t get signed when I was 13 by Ron Dennis then I wouldn’t be sitting in front of you today, I’d be doing something different.”
Hamilton wants to get involved with Formula 1’s governing body, the FIA, because he feels they could do a lot more to help the situation.
“I do want to get involved in working with the FIA, which is the governing body, and Formula 1, because they can do more to give back, I’d say,” said the British racer.
“And also it doesn’t need to be as expensive as that. I want to get it opened up because you look at football, at tennis, there’s grass roots.”