Lewis Hamilton has spoken of how bananas were thrown at him and the N-word was repeatedly called during a “traumatizing” school career. The seven-time Formula One world champion, who grew up in a town near London, detailed the racist abuse in the On Purpose podcast released on Monday. The 38-year-old, who is preparing for his 17th season in F1, said: “For me, school was the most painful and the most difficult part of my life.
“I was already bullied at the age of six. I was one of three colored kids in that particular school and I was almost thrown around by the big, strong, bully kids.
“And the constant jabs, things that are either thrown at you, like bananas, or people who are very comfortable using the N-word. People call you half-breed and don’t know where you fit in. It was hard for me. .
“There were six or seven black kids out of 1,200 kids at my (secondary) school, and three of us were kept out of the principal’s office all the time.”
The British driver said he felt the system was against him, adding that he suppressed “a lot”. “I didn’t think I was going to be able to go home and tell my parents that these kids kept calling me the N-word, or that I got spanked or beat up at school today,” she said. “I didn’t want my dad to think I wasn’t strong.”
Hamilton is the only black driver in F1. He founded Mission 44, which aims to improve the lives of underrepresented groups, and Ignite, a joint venture with his Mercedes team to improve diversity in motor racing.
The British driver, who finished sixth in the 2022 standings, is entering the final year of his massive contract with Mercedes but is expected to sign a new multi-year deal. Looking ahead to life after F1, Hamilton added in the podcast, which was recorded in November: “When I stop racing it’s going to be really hard. I’ve been doing it for 30 years. What happens when you stop? That matches?
“Nothing compares to being in the stadium, being at the race, being at the top of the sport and being at the front of the grid or coming through the grid and the emotion I get with that.” “When I stop there will be a big hole so I’m trying to focus and find things that can replace it and be just as rewarding.”
Hamilton will unveil his new Mercedes at the team launch at Silverstone on February 15 ahead of the first round of the new season on March 5 in Bahrain.
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