Former Force India boss provides F1 car for students from diverse backgrounds

Lewis Hamilton’s call for greater diversity in Formula One has been answered by one of the sport’s former team bosses.

Ex-Force India deputy chief Bob Fernley has linked up with ROKiT telecoms boss Jonathan Kendrick to unearth engineering stars of the future from diverse backgrounds.

Fernley has put forward his own Ensign F1 car – which finished sixth at the 1981 Monaco Grand Prix – to be run by students attending the National Centre for Motorsport Engineering (NCME) at the University of Bolton. Forty-seven of the 196 students are from an ethnic minority backgrounds.

Three-time grand prix winner Johnny Herbert will drive the students’ machine at a private test in Anglesey at the end of the month, with the hope of then competing at the Masters Historic Festival at Brands Hatch in August and the 2021 Historic Monaco Grand Prix.

“There has long been the feeling, outlined by Lewis so eloquently, that women and people from the BAME community and youngsters from council estates who don’t have the money to take part in what is a massively expensive sport are missing from motor racing and Formula One,” said Fernley, who was second in command at Force India for more than a decade.

“We want to change that, which is why Jonathan and I are acting as benefactors to try to bring through new, young talent that otherwise would never have the opportunity to surface.

“This is the most exciting project of its type so far. The students will be working on a proper Formula One car that has been raced for real around the world and which will have many of the same aerodynamic characteristics as the Mercedes that Lewis will be driving in the future.”

Six-time world champion Hamilton has been vocal on the topic of diversity in the sport. He performed the Black Power salute after winning Sunday’s Styrian Grand Prix and vowed to spend the remainder of his life fighting racism.

The Briton will be back in action at this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix, the third round of the new season.