Lewis Hamilton says his journey from working-class kid to Formula One superstar would be impossible today as the sport has become a “billionaire boys’ club”.
Hamilton, who is looking for an eighth world championship this year, famously grew up on a UK council estate in Stevenage. His father, Anthony, worked several jobs to fund Hamilton’s junior career before Lewis was eventually signed by McLaren, who gave him his F1 start in 2007.
Hamilton says the way the sport has changed in the years since means a similar story is impossible.
“We live in a time where this sport has become a billionaire boys’ club,” Hamilton told Spanish publication AS.
“If I were to start over from a working-class family, it would be impossible for me to be here today because the other boys would have a lot more money.
“We have to work to change that and make this an accessible sport, for the rich and for people with more humble origins.”
Three of F1’s current drivers — Lance Stroll, Nicholas Latifi and Nikita Mazepin — are the sons of billionaires, while another two — Hamilton’s 2021 title rival Max Verstappen and Mick Schumacher — are the sons of former F1 drivers.
Hamilton has become a vocal advocate for diversity in Formula One. Last year he set up a commission to look at why ethnic minorities are underrepresented in the sport.