Racing driver Lewis Hamilton has been named the most influential black person in the UK Powerlist 2021 on the heels of winning his seventh Formula One world championship title after the Turkish Grand Prix on Sunday.

Lewis is an ethical vegan and has been campaigning for racial justice after a year in which he combined record-breaking achievements on the track with raising awareness of racial injustice.

The Formula One driver tops the Powerlist 2021 ahead of Prof Kevin Fenton, Public Health England’s regional director for London, and the grime MC and philanthropist Stormzy. The annual Powerlist focused this year on honouring people who have spoken truth to power at a time of increased debate about racial injustice, its publisher said.

Defying all stereotypes, Lewis Hamilton has explained how following a plant-based diet has benefited his life, emphasising how being vegan has impacted his energy for the better. Speaking in GQ Hype, the Formula One driver stated that while it is ideal for your energy “to be consistent”, sometimes you may have “big oscillations and highs and lows in your energy levels”. However, in his experience, deciding to adopt a plant-based diet in 2017 rid him of this issue. “Veganism has eradicated that,” Hamilton said. “When I was 22, it was raw talent. You’ve got an abundance of energy, you’re fit, there are no aches and pains.”

Hamilton, F1’s only black driver, has used his superstar status to support the Black Lives Matter movement and encourage his fellow competitors to do so too.

He said it was “an absolute honour” to top the list. “Everyone on this list is so inspiring and leading in their own industry,” said Hamilton. “I’m honestly thrilled to be mentioned alongside them.”

In second place was Fenton, whose work tackling the coronavirus pandemic has included engaging with black, Asian and minority ethnic communities on the disproportionate impact that Covid-19 has had on them. Kinnair, who is at No 6, has been campaigning for adequate protection for nurses during the pandemic and has also spoken out about how the NHS fails staff and patients from minority backgrounds.

Eboda said another change from the past was that the Powerlist, now in its 15th year, had previously tried to avoid including sports stars and celebrities because they were already high profile and it wanted to show black people’s success in other fields, which also offered more realistic career paths. But he said many such celebrities were now transcending their sphere of excellence to try to effect change. “We are acknowledging bravery here as well,” said Eboda. These are people who haven’t been afraid to speak out. You’ve got Stormzy, who – it’s unheard of – I mean, he gives away scholarships for kids to go to Cambridge. You’ve got Lewis Hamilton, he can talk comfortably about diversity in his sport.”

Stormzy rises two places from last year to No 3 after announcing he would donate £10m to black British causes over the next 10 years. In August he made his first major donation as part of that pledge – £500,000 to the Black Heart Foundation to fund educational scholarships for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Hamilton, who does not yet have a contract for next year, added he would “love to stay” in F1 and wanted to continue to campaign for change when it comes to human rights, diversity and environmentalism.

Original source: https://www.theguardian.com