Lewis Hamilton has made a personal pledge of £20m as F1’s seven-time world champion launches a new charitable foundation to support underrepresented groups in the UK.

Mission 44 will support ‘organisations and programmes that narrow the gap in employment and education systems, through partnerships, collaborations, grant giving and advocacy’.

The joint charitable initiative between Hamilton and his Mercedes team announced at the start of this year will also feature under Mission 44 and will be called Ignite. This will focus on increasing representation from diverse backgrounds in studying STEM and engineering subjects in addition to the wider industry.

“Supporting the ambitions of underrepresented young people has always been important to me and Mission 44 represents my commitment to create real change within this community,” said Hamilton.

“In my early life, I experienced first-hand how coming from an underrepresented background can affect your future but, luckily for me, I was able to overcome those odds through opportunity and support. I want to ensure that other young people from similar backgrounds are able to do the same.

“I am so grateful that Mercedes are joining me on our initiative Ignite, with the goal to improve representation within the motorsport industry. The findings of The Hamilton Commission and its recommendations have provided us with a fantastic basis to begin our work.

“Change within the industry is long overdue, but we are now firmly on the journey towards transforming it for the better.”

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Sky F1’s Natalie Pinkham sat down with Lewis Hamilton to reflect on his year so far and the ‘Hamilton Commission’, which aims to improve diversity in F1 and beyond

Sky F1’s Natalie Pinkham sat down with Lewis Hamilton to reflect on his year so far and the ‘Hamilton Commission’, which aims to improve diversity in F1 and beyond

The foundation will use the work of The Hamilton Commission, which earlier this month revealed its findings into the reason for the underrepresentation of Black people in the motorsport industry and highlighted societal reasons.

“Mission 44 will be committed to directly addressing some of these issues, but it also understands the need to support other underrepresented groups who are at risk of being left behind,” added the statement.

With Mercedes having thrown their full support behind Hamilton’s projects in addition to implementing their own programmes to improve diversity, team boss Toto Wolff said: “We are delighted and proud to be standing alongside Lewis today for the announcement of Mission 44 and the Ignite initiative.

“Lewis has long spoken about the challenges he has faced in motorsport. His determination to turn his experience into such powerful and decisive action is a measure of both his character and his unwavering commitment to support people to fulfil their potential.

“At Mercedes, we have listened and worked closely with Lewis over the last year to understand how we can help open up our sport to achieve a more diverse and inclusive workforce within our own team. The opportunity to work together through Ignite, with Mission 44 and our own Accelerate 25 programme, is both exciting and challenging.

“We are looking forward to getting started and hope our actions will enable many more people to experience the thrills of motorsport in the future.”