British Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton is one of the most influential race car drivers in the whole world. Hamilton not only holds the record for having the most wins in Formula One history, but he also dominates social media with over 40 million followers on social media. And the 37-year-old Mercedes driver uses his fame to speak out about issues he cares about on social media.
Outside the racetrack, Hamilton is more than just a race car driver, he is also an environmentalist, animal rights activist, and human rights advocate. The best-paid driver in the history of F1 has a big heart and is a generous philanthropist who supported charities like Save the Children, UNICEF, and Education Africa.
A human Rights Advocate
Being the first and only black F1 driver, Hamilton has suffered countless racist abuse. Since he was just a small kid trying out for a Remote-controlled car race until now that he has become the most successful person in motorsport.
Because of his personal experience, Hamilton became a prominent advocate against racism and for increased diversity in motorsport. He took the knee before every race he entered in the 2020 Formula One season in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and wore t-shirts bearing the Black Lives Matter slogan.
Hamilton teamed up with the Royal Academy of Engineering in establishing The Hamilton Commission. It had been in development since December 2019 but publicly launched in June 2020 to coincide with the heightened media and public interest in the Black Lives Matter movement, and greater scrutiny of race inequality in society. Hamilton’s partnership with the Royal Academy of Engineering was initiated to find ways in engaging more young people from black backgrounds with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics subjects and hire them in the field of motorsport or other engineering fields.
Hamilton uses his influence in motorsport in his advocacy not just in his homeland but also in other countries where he is competing. In December 2020, Hamilton spoke to human rights organizations and legal experts after an 11-year-old boy named Ahmed Ramadhan, wrote a letter to him, asking for his help to save his father, who was facing the death penalty for the death of a policeman. Allegedly, the confession was extracted through torture. The F1 champion also spoke with Bahraini officials about the country’s human rights. According to Hamilton, although he had no authority to choose the location for his race, “going to these countries and just ignoring what is happening in those places” is not the right way.
In February 2021, Hamilton wrote on his Instagram about discrimination within the sport and within the world, saying that change is still needed. He ended his post with a vow that as long as he still has air in his lungs, he will continue to fight for the change in everything he does.
Because of his involvement in the fight against racism, Hamilton become the first recipient of the inaugural Laureus Athlete Advocate of the Year Award in May 2021.
In July 2021, Hamilton spoke out against the anti-LGBT laws in Hungary, after a law that limits discussions of LGBT sexualities in school was implemented in the country.
In December 2021, the seven-times F1 world Champion also expressed his concern about human rights in Saudi Arabia saying he did not feel comfortable about racing there. The Briton also wore a Progress Pride helmet to draw attention to LGBTQ+ intolerance in Saudi, the same helmet he wore during the Qatar Grand Prix in November.
Animal Rights Activist
Hamilton is a dog dad to an adorable pooch named Roscoe, that is why he is against animal exploitation. He urged China to change the category of dogs to pets instead of livestock.
Hamilton is likewise calling for marine life conservation and spoke against the illegal wildlife trade. He also criticized factory farming and spoke out about animals in captivity. Hamilton even urged his followers not to support dolphin shows and other attractions that used animals for entertainment.
Hamilton believes that it is important to fight for those that don’t have a voice and protect the planet’s amazing wildlife, which is why he is supporting charities that fight the illegal wildlife trade.
He likewise appealed to Mercedes to ditch leather and the company responded by starting to use more sustainable, plant-based materials in their vehicles, including cactus, mushroom leather, and recycled plastic bottle suede.
In 2017, Hamilton decided to go vegan after watching the documentary What the Health. During an interview with BBC, he mentioned environmental, animal welfare, and health concerns as his reason for his dietary switch.
In recognition of his passion for vegan activism, Hamilton was named the PETA Person of the Year in 2018.
Aside from supporting vegan-friendly nutritional drink brand Athletic Greens, Hamilton also partnered with Tommy Hilfiger to release some collaborations, which make use of vegan and sustainable materials. Their clothing line TOMMYXLEWIS was made from organic cotton, recycled denim, and Sorona yarn.
Hamilton launched a vegan restaurant named Neat Burger in September 2019 which claims to be the first international plant-based burger chain. In 2020 and 2021, Neat Burger was named Best Vegan Restaurant of the Year at the Deliveroo Restaurant Awards. Neat Burger was also chosen as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ inaugural Company of the Year.
As an Environmentalist
Hamilton is aware of the impact of motorsports on the planet which is why he is committed to lowering his carbon footprint. The record-breaking racer pledged to go carbon neutral, so he sold his private jet and chose to drive electric vehicles instead of sports cars.
He also avoided plastic in his home after seeing the amount of plastic that ends up in the ocean. Hamilton even posted a video on his Instagram account showing how many plastics he was able to collect along the shoreline in less than an hour.
In 2020, Hamilton donated $500,000 to support Wires Wildlife Rescue, WWF Australia, and the Rural Fire Services amid the Australian bushfires. He also encouraged his followers to donate too.