Is it a surprise that one of the world’s more expensive sports still has racist and homophobic attitudes within the sport and outside? Is it a giveaway that Lewis Hamilton is to date the only black F1 driver? The justification that the money needed to be in the sport is one of the many reasons that only white male drivers ever move forward. Well, in that case the situation is highlighting an even more gruesome problem in society. Pointing out who is it that does not have the money to get into the sport and why. It somewhat explains why the sport has always been white male-dominated, and because of that dominance, anyone different or from the outside gets bitter treatment.

In an era where there is a need to be focused on more inclusivity and diversity, these incidents show how much work is still left to be done. Only a few weeks prior to this Lewis Hamilton suffered racist abuse to which he replied on his social media saying, “It’s more than language. These archaic mindsets need to change and have no place in our sport. I’ve been surrounded by these attitudes and targeted my whole life. There has been plenty of time to learn. Time has come for action.”.

It is appalling to think that a seven-time Formula 1 world Champion still has to combat such perspectives. But it is not about achievements, it is about basic human decency. Even if he had no achievements, it would have been completely and utterly wrong to withstand such behaviour. If such is the reality now, one can only imagine how much the young Lewis Hamilton had to suffer as a time when even voicing such opinions wasn’t allowed.

Recently Lewis Hamilton has launched initiatives, the Hamilton commission and Mission 44 to support under-served communities in the UK and to find the root cause of problems. But one can understand that his investment also comes from personal experiences. What about others? Though companies have started initiatives, they seem too few and far between. For example, Alpine, another Formula 1 team launched a program called “Rac(H)er” to increase the number of women not only in its F1 team but also to assist women drivers in reaching the pinnacle of motorsport.

As per the team’s announcement, “This programme will also include the deconstruction of stereotypes using research with the funding of a scientific study to definitively break down all the pseudo-scientific alleged hurdles to F1 female competition [fitness, cognitive].”

It is not only regarding on-track roles where the sports lack female representation but in even off-track roles. For example, there are many female sports presenters let alone a woman of colour. Hence it wouldn’t be surprising that Naomi Schiff is also a racing driver. She is also the first black female sports presenter on Sky Sports. She faced racist and sexist trolling on social media with people judging her credentials in the sport.

Again, people came out strongly in support of her but it is not a question of support. The question is why do these things keep happening? All of these incidents happened in the space of just two months. The sad part is that it is nothing new. With fans getting harassed at the recent Austrian GP and being uncomfortable in the paddock, regressive attitudes have just become synonymous with F1.

It was only recently that, Aiden Louw, who is a mixed-race person born in South Africa came forward to speak about the racist remarks he had to suffer while he worked at Aston Martin, one of the Formula 1 team. He told Sky Sports, “Before I even walked into my working environment that’s when I was told, ‘look if you’ve got a problem with how we speak here, it’s just how we speak’.” He said in the same interview that he also had to suffer homophobic abuse when the team found out about his past same sex relationship.

It is common practise to condemn discriminatory acts, as was done by multiple stakeholders of Formula 1. But it is important to question, is it only lip service or have steps towards actual change been implemented? During this time another incident was highlighted, of a young junior driver, Juri Vips who used a racial slur in his Twitch stream. His contract was then effectively terminated and he apologised for his behaviour. This gives rise to the question that, is an apology enough? Hasn’t it become the latest trend to commit a mistake first and then apologise?

The PR team of every company or sportsperson usually has a text ready for such a scenario, as was evident when all the teams posted their support for Lewis Hamilton and condemned racist behaviour in general. But words can’t suffice. Time has truly come for action.

Not all is bleak and sad, but it is definitely a case for concern. The sport might seem to many far removed from their own reality because of its lavishness, but it cannot be denied that it does affect real people on a daily basis. It is still important to spread awareness and talk about it. It is still important to support those who are trying to create a change. As Hamilton says, “change can’t happen with a single person.”