Lewis Hamilton reveals shocking racist assault he suffered as a child in Newcastle


Lewis Hamilton is one of the most prominent black athletes in world sport. (Photo: Getty)

Lewis Hamilton has revealed that he was the victim of a racist assault outside a corner shop in Newcastle as a child.

The seven-time Formula 1 champion is the only full-time black driver to have ever raced in the series has faced bigoted abuse throughout his career in the top tier of motorsport, including when he was referred to with vile language by triple title winner Nelson Piquet earlier this year.

Former McLaren team principal Ron Dennis met Hamilton and his father Anthony at the Autosport Awards when the future champion was aged just eight and competing in junior karting events, where he says ‘There was a lot of the N-word going around’ from rival children and their families, before team and driver eventually united for Hamilton’s debut season in F1 in 2007 and his maiden title the following year.

Now for the first time Hamilton has detailed an horrendous physical attack he suffered while visiting his mother and stepfather in Newcastle-upon-Tyne at the age of around 12 in the mid-to-late 1990s.

In an interview with Vanity Fair, Hamilton explained how an adult and child approached him while he walked towards the shop alone, before knocking him to the grounding and repeatedly kicking him while shouting ‘Go back to your country.’

‘Even today I remember how terrifying it was,’ he said. ‘I really, really couldn’t understand it. It was like, “Are they talking to me? I’m from here. What do they mean?” I could never understand it. When you’re being attacked, there’s this fear, and there’s anger as well because you want to get them back for the pain that they’re causing you.’

‘I never spoke about it to my parents,’ Hamilton explained. ‘I didn’t speak about it to my mum — I didn’t think she’d understand. And my dad, I was probably too scared to tell my dad, because I didn’t want him to think I was a wuss. You know, I didn’t want him to think I couldn’t defend myself. I just remember a lot of times just being alone, just in tears in my room.’

Hamilton has increasingly campaigned on diversity issues in the past few years. He is a prominent supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement, and his Hamilton Commission has been set up to provide greater opportunity for young black people in STEM subjects and motorsport.

The former McLaren driver is also working with his Mercedes team to increase the diversity of its workforce, and repeatedly wore a pre-race t-shirt during the 2020 season bearing the slogan ‘arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor’, in reference to the case of a black woman in the United States who was killed by white police officers in her apartment when they shot her six times.

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