Lewis Hamilton ‘was insulted’ when racing go-karts as a youngster because of the colour of his skin, according to Toto Wolff. The Mercedes boss believes the racism Hamilton suffered during his childhood has had a lasting impact on him.
Hamilton missed out on landing a record eighth F1 championship in December after he finished second at the season-deciding Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi.
The Briton had looked set to win the race before a safety car was deployed after Williams’ Nicholas Latifi had crashed into a wall.
Max Verstappen took the opportunity to pit for fresh tyres, with Hamilton unable to do the same without risking his track position.
As the Grand Prix was about to restart, race director Michael Masi allowed five cars that were sandwiched between Hamilton and his title rival to unlap themselves and move out of the way.
Verstappen pulled level with the Briton as the race resumed and made the most of his fresh tyres to storm to victory.
The Mercedes driver has kept quiet since seeing the title snatched from his grasp and there has been a huge fallout from the events which unfolded in the desert.
Hamilton has even been tipped to retire from the sport.
But Wolff insists the 37-year-old is mentally resilient and has referenced the shocking treatment Hamilton had to endure as a child.
“As a child he was insulted on the go-kart track,” Wolff told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.
“White parents forbade their children to interact with him – that definitely left big scars on him too.
“For him, racing was the valve to show everyone, and it still is.”
Days after his desert disappointment, Hamilton was back in England as he was knighted at Windsor Castle.
He was joined by his mother Carmen Lockhart at the ceremony and was all smiles as he was honoured by the Prince of Wales.
Hamilton became just the fourth Grand Prix driver to receive the honour as he followed in the footsteps of Sir Jack Brabham, Sir Stirling Moss and Sir Jackie Stewart.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says Lewis Hamilton was ‘insulted’ as a child
The Mercedes ace was the first driver to be knighted while still competing.
Hamilton’s knighthood was awarded for his services to motorsport. But he has also made a name for himself off the track throughout his career.
The veteran driver is an anti-racism campaigner and has also given his support to environmental issues, human rights and animal rights.
He has been involved in a plethora of charity initiatives and has worked with UNICEF for a decade. He was also chosen as a United Nations ambassador for education in 2020.