Motorsport UK receives inaugural grant from the Ignite Partnership to boost UK motorsport
Motorsport UK’s FIA Girls on Track UK has been announced as an inaugural recipient of a charitable grant from Ignite Partnership, a joint charitable initiative between Sir Lewis Hamilton and the Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team.
Motorsport UK is joined by the Royal Academy of Engineering as the inaugural recipients, to support programmes focused respectively on increasing female participation in grass roots motorsport, and on Masters-level motorsport engineering scholarships for Black students.
The Ignite partnership was created in July 2021 to increase diversity and inclusion within motorsport. Mission 44, Sir Lewis’s charitable foundation, leads on coordination of the initiative.
With over £5million ($6 million) of seed funding available from its founders, Ignite’s mission is to support projects that increase diversity and inclusion in motorsport, by enabling pathways into the sport for under-represented groups.
The grant will see the Ignite Partnership collaborating with Motorsport UK’s FIA Girls on Track UK programme, who will expand the reach to 8,000 girls and young women from ages 8 to 24 through the support of Ignite. The Girls on Track UK programme has been running since 2016 and aims to inspire, connect, and showcase underrepresented groups in motorsport, with a special focus on female representation.
With a priority on increasing participation from pupils from ethnic minorities and economically disadvantaged backgrounds, Girls on Track UK will be developing new partnerships to reach more communities with high representation from low-income and minority ethnic groups.
Motorsport UK aims to increase the Girls on Track UK community by introducing new schools to the programme, with at least 50% of the participants qualifying for free school meals to inspire, connect and showcase the career opportunities available in motorsport to young females.
Hugh Chambers, Chief Executive Officer at Motorsport UK, commented, “Motorsport UK is committed to using our reach and influence effectively, ensuring we are making a positive contribution to society. It’s important that we’re not only engaging in the conversation around equality, diversity and inclusion, but using our platform to make a difference through meaningful action with like minded organisations and partners.
“We’ve made great strides through our Girls on Track UK programme, introducing thousands of girls and young women to the opportunities that are available to them in motorsport.
“We are delighted that Sir Lewis and Mercedes, through their Ignite partnership, have recognised the work and impact of Girls on Track UK. We’re excited to be working with Ignite and look forward to extending our outreach, welcoming new members into our community and showcasing that motorsport is a safe, fun and fair environment for all.”
Sir Lewis Hamilton said, “I’m very proud to see Ignite announcing our first two grants today. There has been a lot of work behind the scenes since launching and I’m delighted that Mercedes and I can continue to demonstrate our commitment towards creating a more diverse industry in this way. We chose these grants because they focus on supporting individuals from two crucial and underrepresented demographics, moving us towards our goal of increasing the number of women and Black talent in the sport. The events of this week have shown us why there continues to be an urgent need to push for better representation in our industry. More than ever we must focus on how we can use action to change motorsport for the better and this is an exciting next step.”
With its inaugural grants, the Ignite partnership has funded two very different types of programming – from inspiring a broad cross-section of young women to consider the opportunities motorsport can offer, to the targeted funding of graduate education to enable scholars to enter the high-performance motorsport engineering sector. This reflects the breadth of ambition of the partnership, as it looks to support the creation of a more diverse and inclusive motorsport sector.
Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team Co-Owner and Team Principal Toto Wolff said, “These two grants demonstrate the wide range of opportunities that can make a meaningful contribution to the Partnership’s overall goal. From inspirational motorsport events and experiences that will show the power of possibility to thousands of girls and young women in the UK – to academic support for some of the brightest and best Black engineering students in the country – we intend for each initiative to make a tangible contribution to building a more diverse and inclusive motorsport industry.”