W Series driver hails Vettel and Hamilton as ‘figureheads’ of F1

Sebastian Vettel and Sir Lewis Hamilton have been agents of change in recent years in Formula 1.

W Series driver Jessica Hawkins has praised Sebastian Vettel and Sir Lewis Hamilton for their efforts in helping to make Formula 1 a better sport for all.

The seven-time world champion set up the Hamilton commission in 2020 in an attempt to encourage greater diversity in the pinnacle of motorsport, while Vettel, who won four championships between 2010 and 2013, has persistently been an advocate for equality and positive change in recent years.

Last year, the German wore a rainbow shirt and mask in protest of Hungary’s anti-LGBT laws, before holding an all-women karting event ahead of the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in Jeddah.

Further, he has placed a great emphasis on the environment since his move to Aston Martin, and all of this makes Vettel, with whom Hawkins works as driver ambassador at the team, an inspiration.

“He is, hand on heart, one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met,” she told talkSPORT.

“He is using his brand to express how he’s feeling and everything he does, he does because he genuinely means it.

“He’s not doing it for show, he’s not doing it for anything other than he truly believes in what he stands up for.

“To have a role model like that, not just for me, but for everybody in the sport is amazing and genuinely I cannot express enough how amazing he is.”

Hawkins recognises Vettel and Hamilton as pioneers who are making a tangible impact on the sport while they are competing.

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“Any top-level sports person to speak out like they have done is incredible and they’re doing what they can while they’re in their prime to make change,” she explained.

“We need figureheads like that because they are the people in the public eye and, if they’re willing to make that step and make that change, that’s what we need in the sport.”

One of the aims of the Hamilton commission is to get more women involved in motorsport, and their report last year spoke of “banter that crossed the line” towards women in the paddock.

Hawkins, who scored points four times in eight W series races last year, can scarcely recall racing with other females when she was growing up.

“From when I first started, when I first had a go in a go-kart I could name two other names of females that were involved in motorsport or certainly ones I was racing around with anyway,” she explained.

“We are seeing more females within the sport, not just drivers, but mechanics, engineers, strategists, marketing, and all of these people have a genuine interest in motorsport.

“I do think that is because we now have a few figureheads and we do have people speaking out and I think that we’re changing the perception.”

She praised her Aston Martin team for tying to change the outlook of F1 that it is a man’s world.

“The perception is that motorsport is a man’s world and whilst I think that it still is predominantly men, the perception is changing,” she stated.

“Which is where some of the issue lies, is the perception and at Aston Martin are helping drive that change.”