After signing a new mega-money one-year contract with Mercedes, Lewis Hamilton is on the verge of Formula One immortality. Tied with the great Michael Schumacher on seven world title wins, another World Championship win this season will see the Briton become the most successful F1 driver ever.
But it’s not the only legacy that the 36-year-old wants when he finally hangs up his helmet, with Mercedes affirming their commitment to Hamilton’s efforts to promote diversity and inclusion within the sport by jointly setting up a new charitable foundation.
Speaking after signing the new contract, rumoured to be worth in the region of £40m, Hamilton said: “I am excited to be heading into my ninth season with my Mercedes teammates.
“I’m equally determined to continue the journey we started to make motorsport more diverse for future generations and I am grateful that Mercedes has been extremely supportive of my call to address this issue. I’m proud to say we are taking that effort further this year by launching a foundation dedicated to diversity and inclusion in the sport. I am inspired by all that we can build together and can’t wait to get back on the track in March.”
Hamilton’s outspokenness on key social issues around the world has been just as important to the driver, if not more important, than the countless medals, trophies and honours dotted throughout his glittering career, from Black Lives Matter to the environment.
It’s an important stance for the sporting megastar, whose social media following across Instagram, Facebook and Twitter totals nearly 32m, especially in a world where hatred and division seem rife and a generation of new F1 fans are beginning to fall in love with the sport.
Speaking after the contract signing, Mercedes chief Toto Wolff reiterated his team’s and Hamilton’s desire to change the sport.
"Together, we have decided to extend the sporting relationship for another season and to begin a longer-term project to take the next step in our shared commitment to greater diversity within our sport,” Wolff stated.
"Lewis’ competitive record stands alongside the best the sports world has ever seen, and he is a valued ambassador for our brand and our partners.”
Hamilton will be racing alongside Valtteri Bottas for Mercedes when the 2021 season begins in Bahrain on 28 March. What Lewis’ future in F1 is after this season, only time will tell. But what we can be certain of is that whenever he does retire, he will leave the sport with a very bright future on and off the track.