Formula One superstar Lewis Hamilton has opened up about the incidents of bullying and racism he endured growing up in England.
Hamilton, the only black driver in F1 and a seven-time champion, told the «On Purpose» podcast that he began being bullied when he was 6 years old and was racially abused while at school.
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«For me, school was probably the most traumatic and difficult part of my life,» Hamilton said. «I was already being bullied at the age of 6… I think at the time, (in) that particular school, I was probably one of the three kids of color and the bigger, stronger, bullier kids were pulling me. much of the time
«And then the constant hitting, the things being thrown at you, like bananas, people using the N-word so loosely. People were calling you half-breed and I didn’t really know where you fit in. That was hard for me.» , and then when you go to history class and everything you learn in history, there are no people of color in the history that we were being taught. So I thought, ‘Where are the people who look like me?'»
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Hamilton alleged that his school principal «had it rough» with him and the half dozen black children at the school in Stevenage, England. He said he didn’t feel like he could talk to his parents about the abuse he said he received at school.
«There were many things that I suppressed. I felt like I couldn’t go home and tell my parents that these kids kept calling me N today, (that) they bullied me, hit me at school today, or I couldn’t defend myself,» he said in the episode. «I didn’t want my dad to think I wasn’t strong and if I had tears I held them back, if I had emotions it would be in a quiet place. It wasn’t really until I started running that I was able to channel this emotion I had into my driving.»
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Hamilton, who drives for Mercedes, is F1’s all-time leader in grand prix wins with 103 and has 103 pole positions. His quest for an eighth F1 title begins on March 5 in Bahrain.
Associated Press contributed to this report.