• Lewis Hamilton was supported by his dad during the beginning of his racing career
  • Hamilton said he has dealt with racial issues because F1 used to be a white-dominated sport
  • Hamilton is proud of being a sports icon like Tiger Woods

Formula One living legend Lewis Hamilton said Tiger Woods was one of the people who inspired him and opened up about the racial issues he and his father dealt with during the start of his career.

Hamilton was the youngest driver in history to have claimed a Formula 1 championship at the age of 23. However, he didn’t immediately translate to a feeling of acceptance in the sport in which “white people” used to rule.

In a special appearance of The BoF podcast, the 6-time world champion revealed the hardships he and his ever-supportive father have gone through before finally conquering Formula One.

Now hailed as one of the best racing drivers of all time, Hamilton began his racing career at eight years old. He likens his own remarkable rise to the top of Formula 1 to movie “Cool Runnings,” the film which documents the unlikely story of the Jamaican Bobsled Team at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Canada.

“I relate a lot of my life to that movie because they arrive at the top of a hill with a rust bucket and everyone goes quiet…when we got to races I remember people looking at us like, 'What are they doing here. Because it was a white-dominated sport, ” Hamilton revealed.

According to Hamilton, during his first meeting with Formula 1’s boss, he remembers being looked from head to toe and “it felt so judgemental.”

“I remember feeling like I had to conform to what he wanted me to look like in order to be good enough to be accepted into the environment,” Hamilton recalled.

Inspired by golf legend Woods, another sports icon of his own color, Hamilton “did his talking on the track” and didn’t choose to fade away to the shadows because of the racial issues of the sport at the time. After winning titles over and over again, people from all walks of life started to recognize him and that’s when he realized everything he and his father have invested in already paid off.

“No diversity in it. I felt alone a little bit but it was a great platform for us to do something great and inspire. That made me and my dad so proud. Because I grew up seeing people like Tiger Woods doing the same,” Hamilton said.

Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton won his fifth F1 Drivers' title at the Mexico Grand Prix in 2018. In this picture, Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP celebrates on the podium during the Formula One Grand Prix of Brazil at Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on Nov. 11, 2018, in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Clive Mason/Getty Images

Today, Hamilton is one of the most celebrated athletes of his generation. But being naturally shy, he has always channelled his personality through his own sense of style. Aside from being a racing star, Hamilton eventually evolved into a fashion icon. In fact, his most recent collaboration is with world-famous clothing brand Tommy Hilfiger.