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Will we ever see another Lewis Hamilton?

November 17, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Lewis Hamilton has made history. Now a seven-time Formula One world champion, the Englishman equaled Michael Schumacher's record with a stunning victory at a wet and tumultuous Turkish Grand Prix on Sunday. But will we ever see another working-class, person of color achieve sustained success at the pinnacle of motorsport?

He is F1's first and only Black world champion in its 70-year history and a racing great from a humble background.

In 2015, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff estimated that to traverse the many levels of motorsport -- from entry level karting, to Formula Renault, onto Formula 3, GP2 and then to F1 -- it would cost a driver €8 million ($9. 4 million) total.

PA media's F1 correspondent Phil Duncan believes the sport is fortunate to have had even one champion of the caliber of Hamilton.

In 2019, Hamilton lamented the lack of working-class drivers making it to the grid, saying: "There are very few, if [any] working-class families on their way up.

Mercedes team principal Wolff says that drivers like Stroll face "stigma" because of their wealthy background even when they have the results to back up their selection.

But Duncan says it is a costly sport for even those with motorsport pedigree.

"I spoke to [1996 world champion] Damon Hill earlier this year and he was telling me about the eye-watering sums that he used to have to put aside for his son when he was karting," Duncan says of the English driver whose father was also a former F1 champion.

"If a world champion, whose father [Graham Hill] won two world championships, is saying how difficult it is to have the money to be able to allow his son to race it shows you just how expensive it is and how difficult it is to get into this sport. "

As part of the initiative, F1 says, in partnership with the governing body, the FIA, it hopes to create "a diverse driver talent pipeline by identifying and systematically eliminating barriers to entry from grassroots karting to Formula 1. "

Asked how this money directly translated into giving people from non-wealthy backgrounds a chance break into motorsport, F1 told CNN that the sport aimed to "reflect the world in which we race. "

While F1 said it hoped the initiative would "encourage people from underrepresented background" to race, the sport also wanted its efforts to have an impact beyond the track, offering opportunities "through engineering scholarships, internships throughout the organization and working closely with the teams to provide as many avenues as we can into the industry. "

The karts used in Electroheads Motorsport offer performance parity for significantly lower running costs, meaning talent is the most important factor to being a successful racing driver.

Hamilton has said that when he does leave F1 he wants to leave behind a more diverse sport.

Smedley, who is also director of data systems for F1, believes the sport isn't making empty promises with its financial pledges to increase diversity and equality of opportunity, and is doing "a brilliant job. "

Duncan agrees, saying: "As it stands, the current system is still in place and it is costing parents tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of pounds a year to get their children in a position to be able to go racing.

Smedley is more confident than Duncan that there will be another working-class driver achieving excellence in F1, saying the sport's commitment to increasing diversity and opportunity has "gathered at an alarming pace" in the past two years.

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