Lewis Hamilton recalls bullying, racial abuse during school years
Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes reacts in a press conference during previews ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on November 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili, File)
Formula One great Lewis Hamilton experienced bullying when he was only 6 years old and said he had bananas thrown at him when he was racially abused at school.
The seven-time champion, who is the only Black driver in F1, called his schooldays the most traumatic of times.
“For me, school was probably the most traumatizing and most difficult part of my life,” Hamilton said in an interview for the On Purpose podcast, which was released Monday.
“I already was being bullied at the age of 6 … I think at the time, (at) that particular school, I was probably one of three kids of colour and just bigger, stronger, bullying kids were throwing me around a lot of the time.”
Born and educated in Stevenage, England, Hamilton described how racial abuse continued during his school years, along with the utter isolation and confusion he felt.
“And then constant jabs (jibes), the things that are thrown at you, like bananas, people that would use the N-word just so relaxed. People calling you half-caste and just really not knowing where you fit in,” the 38-year-old Hamilton told the podcast show.
“That for me was difficult, and then when you go into history class and everything you learn in history there are no people of colour in the history they were teaching us. So I was thinking, ‘Where are the people who look like me?’”
Hamilton said even figures of authority would pick on him.
“There were only around six or seven black kids out of 1,200 kids and three of us were put outside the headmaster’s office all the time,” he said. “The headmaster just had it out for us and particularly for me I would say.
“I was put in all the lowest sets at school and told that if you do well you can progress. They never ever let me progress, no matter how hard I tried,” Hamilton added. “I really felt the system was up against me and I was swimming against the tide.”
Hamilton said he felt the bitter pain of exclusion, even at recreation times.