Lewis Hamilton has opened up on the severity of the racial abuse he received while he was still in school, stating it was “the most traumatising part of my life“.
In recent years, Hamilton has used his platform and voice in Formula 1 to be an advocate for the rights of black people.
The seven-time World Champion is assisting his Mercedes Formula 1 team to increase the diversity of its workforce and provide an equal opportunity for applicants through the Accelerate 25 programme.
He has also set up the Hamilton Commission, which hopes to increase black representation in UK motorsport.
Speaking on the Jay Shetty podcast, Hamilton revealed the extent of abuse he received from his peers during his childhood.
“School was probably the most traumatising and difficult part of my life,” said Hamilton.
“I really was being bullied at the age of six, I think at the time at that particular school I was probably one of three kids of colour. Just bigger, stronger, bullying kids were throwing me around all the time.
“When you stand in the playground and you’re in the line when they pick the teams in football, I was always the last one chosen or not even chosen, even if I was better than somebody else.
“The constant jabs, the things that are thrown at you like bananas, or people that would use the ‘N-word just so relaxed. People calling you ‘half-caste’ and just really not knowing where you fit in. That for me was difficult.”
Hamilton also claims that it wasn’t just his fellow classmates that made life difficult for him at school.
“When you’re in history class and everything you learn, there is no people of colour in the history that they were teaching us,” he said.
“So I was thinking ‘Oh, where are the people that look like me?’ In my school there was only around seven, maybe six black kids out of 1,200 kids.
“Three of us were put outside the headmaster’s office all the time. The headmaster just had it out for us and particularly for me, I would say.
“So I was just juggling all these different emotions I was feeling. Plus I struggled at school, I didn’t find out till I was 16 that I was dyslexic.
“Fortunately I had came across a teacher that was actually caring and took me down that road and helped me discover a little bit more about myself and how I can better myself through education. But for me that was tough.”