‘First black Formula One driver…’

Lewis Hamilton, Valencia, GP2, 2006Inevitably enough, no sooner has Lewis Hamilton’s name been linked with an imminent to switch to Formula One than the stories hailing the ‘first black Formula One driver’ have cropped up.

If anyone thinks that Hamilton’s ethnicity has anything to do with how he has gotten where he is, they have obviously never witnessed his prodigious speed. At the Nurburgring, Silverstone and Istanbul Park in GP2 this year he tore the field to shreds.

F1 anoraks will already have an inlking where I’m heading with this one: Hamilton is not the first black person to have driven a Formula One car. That unique place in F1 history belongs to American William Theodore Ribbs Jnr, better known as Willy T. Ribbs.

Lewis Hamilton, Hockenheimring, GP2, 2006He entered the Formula One history books in January 1986 when he tested for Brabham-BMW at Estoril, Portugal, back when the team was owned by Bernie Ecclestone. It did not lead to a full-time drive, which Hamilton is likely to claim at McLaren if not for next year, then very soon.

He went on to race in CART, NASCAR (after an earlier foray into the sport which ended in his sacking) and the Indy Racing League. Sadly during his first CART season in 1990 he was involved in an collision at the Vancouver street circuit in which a marshall was killed. He retired from motor sport in 2000.

Related links

Advert | Go Ad-free

33 comments on ‘First black Formula One driver…’

  1. Lusu said on 19th May 2007, 17:17

    Come on guys, forget about his skin color. Lets congratulate this young lad for his achievement, “he is the first young F1 driver”

    Peace & blessings

  2. James said on 11th June 2007, 12:48

    I have full support of the new brilliance that has graced the formula one scene! I have a black mum and a white dad. But i disagree that if u have a tiny part of black desendence then you are called black. Does the white heritage not get any recognition in the the matter. Mixed race is category which is used in the census, which i put down for myself. If you wish to call him black then they should only put 2 catagorys on the census. White or black! cuz some ppl think that if your not white then your black which is absolute rubbish!! Anyway keep up the good work lewis!

  3. james said on 11th June 2007, 12:53

    I am from a mixed race background and feel that by calling someone black just because they have a tiny percentage of black heritage is absolute rubbish! Does my white father not get any recognition of how i was produced? people who think like that should wake up and smell he coffee, we are in the 21st century!
    Forgeting that well done lewis keep up the good work!

  4. James Bowman said on 19th June 2007, 3:38

    I agree with james, Lewis makes no big thing of the amount of melanin his skin contains but has pointed out himself that he is mixed when others bring it up. Its not fair we fixate on something so superficial and not discuss his immense driving skill. I really apreciate his humble attitude, gentlemen like demeanor and youthful exuburance. I enjoyed watching him win the USGP on fathers day with my son from turn 1 section J. What a great race probably the best one I have attended so far. LH is the real deal and I am glad he is driving next to a two time world champion so that everyone can’t just say he is in a good car and thats the only reason he can win, he has the best yardstick F-1 could give to refrence from in Fernando. I do believe Fernando is still adapting to the driving style required of the round side profile tyres as he was the epitome of the late turn in drivers. Kimi is the other and at the USGP he was really starting to figure out the tyres and set the fastest lap, he will be far better matched to Felipe the rest of the year IMHO. Congrats Lewis keep it up you are a brilliant driver and keep thanking God.

  5. Breno said on 21st June 2007, 3:57

    I agree with James. I think that you can’t consider a person black only because one of your parents is black. The white parent had a portion in his son’s formation and he must be recognized. Moreover, the son’s DNA is completely “mixed” and his characteristics are quite different from the “non-mixed” people. I’m Brazilian and here, almost all the people are mixed. I’m descendent from Italians, Portugueses, Black ones and American Indians, and I have characters from all of them. Could you classify me in a single race?
    And about Hamilton, I’m his new fan! He is an excellent racer and I hope he’ll have a good luck in his new career!

  6. a.raymond said on 21st June 2007, 19:12

    personally i have only just heard of lewis. But all this “mixed” “black” “white” buisness doesn’t matter. He is a good young driver, who is good looking and “mixed race” which means either one of your parents is another race to the other. For example a black father and a white mother, that classes you as mixed race. If you have two black parents you are black, if you have two white you are white, even if you have a parent that is chinese and the other white, that classes you as mixed race.So A. Aldridge, i dont understand why you brought that up.He is the 1st Mixed race diver that is of black desent but that doesnt matter at all, he is a good driver!GOOD LUCK LEWIS!

  7. martin said on 4th September 2007, 13:39

    Lewis is not black he is mixed, and the fact that he thinks he is black seems to noly serve to increase his over confidence, when he’s won as much as MS come back and talk!

  8. Does anyone out there smell a RAT?

    Firstly, Massa slows down at the start of the Brazilian Grand Prix to give Raikkonen the chance to overtake Hamilton, then his engine “mysteriously” cuts out then a few seconds later it is back to normal and to top that, before the race, Bernie Eccleston almost made it sound like he said that it would be bad for the sport if a “Mixed Race” driver won the F1 championship.

    Something just doesn’t smell right!!!

    Well I am sure Lewis Hamilton will be back next year stronger than ever but I fear he will not only be fighting for the F1 championship, he will also be fighting againts the beaurocrats who feel that they should be the ones to choose who should be World Champ.

    See you next year.

  9. linda said on 30th October 2007, 1:37

    just a thought if it wasn’t for a white person lewis hamilton would not even exist she gave him life why are so many of you so quick to deny this women even exists by calling him black

  10. s t said on 11th June 2008, 13:34

    Let just get one thing straight you confused people! Mixed race is not a colour. Being south African does not make somebody black. Being nigerian doesnot make somebody black either. There are plenty of white people born and raised in nigeria. His skin colour is brown which make him black Darling. his race is mixed but his skin colour is black. There is not denying that a white person gave him life. She gave birth to a black person. You all sound so angry! why? Just admit what he is. BLACK. you cannot deny it!! Would you say obama was mixed race yes. kenyan and european. but his skin colour is black. Whay I ,love about America is even if you are a quarter balck, you are black, period. But her, people just dont want to acknowledge they are black because in england and other european countries, black is seen as negative. But anyway as someone who is blck but iof mixed race, I am very very proud to be black and would never deny being so.

  11. Fallsbrook said on 30th August 2009, 19:41

    As we all know, there is only one race and that is the human race. There is a colour black, white, yellow and brown and we use these terminologies to separate people into different racial groups. Skin colour breeds ignorance, hate and death. Let us concentrate on what is really important to us all and that is the preservation of human life. We must all stop getting hung up on race and skin colour and help each other to live long, fulfilling and happy lives, no matter what part of the world we come from or what colour our skin is. Love yourself and you love everyone.

  12. Isaac said on 28th April 2010, 0:51

    am a sport race which i need a stepping stone someone to sponsor me

  13. J. Bracy said on 11th June 2011, 17:48

    as years go by attitudes follow suit whenever a black man has a little bit of success the white man trying to figure out a way to take that away. for example our president today barack obama the white society trying to find any way to make him seem less black or not black at all. Being that you were able to research hamilton’s backgrounds is the only reason why you are making this debate right now. if he was unknown and he was to rob you at gunpoint in an alley you would tell the authorities that it was a black man. just remember 1 drop of chocolate will turn a large glass of milk brown, That theory will not work in reverse. Good luck Hamilton, and I don’t mean with racing.

  14. Hamilton is mixed race…and more white than black for the love of god..!! Some people..oh and get your head of your asses..white slavery existed long before black slavery..and even continued during the making of america where white slaves were considered lower than blacks..I suggest you look further into history than you have…typical misguided fools.

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments must abide by the comment policy. Comments may be moderated.
Want to post off-topic? Head to the forum.
See the FAQ for more information.