Lewis Hamilton’s push to bring more diversity to Formula One is starting to show some results.
The seven-time F1 title winner’s Mercedes team have hired a South African engineer to work on their powertrains.
Shau Mafuna has joined Mercedes-AMG High-Performance Powertrains which supplies power units to no fewer than four of the current 10 Formula One teams.
These teams are Mercedes-AMG, Aston Martin, McLaren and Williams.
Mafuna – who holds dual Belgian and South Africa citizenship – was offered his new role in November 2020.
Prior to that, he worked with the team as a Product Engineer on the Work Experience Academy (WEA) programme.
He was quoted as describing his job as “one of (his) wildest dreams.”
Mafuna wrote on his Instagram account: “As much as I may be lost for words at this point, I can finally announce that I have managed to secure a full-time role as a Mechanical Engineer at Mercedes-AMG High-Performance Powertrains in the F1 division!
“This is a dream that a certain few know how hard we have pushed to reach this position! The last 12 months on the Work Experience Academy have been challenging but insightful and have prepared me to take up the permanent role with a lot more confidence.
“I would like to say a massive thanks to all those who’ve helped me achieve this dream… It hasn’t been easy, but would it be a dream if it were?
“On to the next chapter”
Lewis Hamilton has often spoken about the lack of diversity in motorsports, especially Formula One, and he is currently the only mixed-race driver in the top flight of motorsport.
In the wake of the George Floyd incident in mid-2020, Mercedes elected to show solidarity with the black community by switching to a black livery from their traditional silver livery.
Furthermore, they launched several initiatives in partnership with Hamilton to bring greater diversity to motorsport.
The WEA programme was one such initiative.
With more than $1 million (R15.6 million) in funding, it aims to encourage children from diverse backgrounds to get into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths) fields.
Hamilton memorably lost out on what would’ve been a record-setting eighth title in 2021 when he was beaten to the title in the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi by bitter Red Bull rival Max Verstappen.
Hamilton will be partnered by British compatriot George Russell in the 2022 season which gets under way with the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday, 20 March
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