An ethnically and gender diverse motorsport team, who featured in the Hamilton Commission’s report, is targeting a place in the 24 Hours of Le Mans by 2024 and is aiming to tackle a lack of diversity within motorsport.
This project is a collaboration between Motors Formula Team founder and director Ludovic Peze and Jahee Campbell-Brennan, director of the engineering consultancy Wavey Dynamics, who will be providing technical services via his role as Engineering Director to the team.
Both are from Black heritage and have first-hand experience of the challenges and barriers within motorsport that prevent equal opportunities – something both are determined to remedy for future generations.
MFT is already an established racing team racing based in Monaco and Mauritius with its drivers and teams having competed in a wide variety of events from the Monaco Historic Grand Prix to French Formula 4.
The team is aiming to race in the GT4 European Championship full-time next season along with soon to be announced manufacturer tie-up, ahead of a future step up to race at Le Mans and is currently looking to generate investment and sponsorship through commercial partnerships.
The team was among the case studies featured in the first report from the Hamilton Commission – an initiative set up by seven time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton to research the underrepresentation of Black people in UK motorsport.
“I made contact with them about eight months ago,” Campbell-Brennan told The Race. “I linked up with their research team and basically helped them with some of my experiences as a Black motorsport engineer and the barriers that I’ve faced.
“A lot of the stuff in the report, I’ve encountered directly so I had a unique perspective to offer.
“I also put forward some of my solutions that I’d come up with before I met them. I was speaking with the FIA about those, figuring out ways to implement them. Some of them made it into the final report.
“Of course, they’re not relying solely on my input, but they’ve reached the same conclusions and recommendations which is great.
“And we [MFT] made it into the report as a case study as something that’s quite innovative, quite fresh and has the potential to make a real change in the motorsport industry.”
The Hamilton Commission report recommends “the creation of scholarship programmes to enable Black graduates from degrees in engineering and allied subjects to progress into specialist motorsport roles”.
MFT will provide opportunities for University students, both while they’re studying for their degree and after they graduate.
“I had very clear ideas of what I wanted to do with my career, as did Ludovic,” Campbell-Brennan added. “But it just became evident that it’s not going to be so easy within the current framework because we don’t meet the traditional criteria.
“For engineering, for example, you often have to be from a group of about five different Universities in England because F1 teams have very close relationships with them.
“Given that I didn’t go to those Universities, it became very difficult to find my way into motorsport.
“A project like this is important because other people have faced similar barriers in their careers and what we’d show is that you can actually do it.
“And there’s more than one way to do it, you might just have to create your own path. It’s also important once we get there, to look backwards to help those who we’re now in a position to help come into motorsport.
“Our vision for it is to start the process of getting a lot of people that wouldn’t normally be able to get into motorsport from certain racial and gender demographics.”
Campbell-Brennan visited the all-female W Series when it supported the British Grand Prix earlier this month and hinted that one of the W Series drivers could join MFT in a sportscar race in the future.
MFT’s ethnically inclusive initiative is far from the first project targeted at reducing unequal opportunities in motorsport, but it’s one that comes with real experience, actions over words, and a structure aimed at beyond just providing more opportunities for drivers.
“What’s making us different to other projects is that we’re not only focussed on drivers” team director Peze said.
“We want to show people that there’s more ways to reach and join motorsport than driving, you could be an engineer like Jahee, team manager like myself, media, PR or journalist.”
In the Hamilton Commission’s report, MFT listed Le Mans as its “short-term goal”, highlighting the high ambition underpinning the team – that’s even considering racing beyond the confines of a race circuit.
“We’re trying to make these things happen as soon as possible,” Peze added. “We’re staying focussed and realistic with a proper roadmap.
“Further testing for the GT programme is all set when we get the budget in place, so competing in a season in GT is our initial project in the short-term.
“The E1 Series [an all-electric powerboat series conceived from Formula E/Extreme E maestro Alejandro Agag] is one we’re looking at.
“We want to race in a sustainable series that provides a new set of challenges. The E1 ticks the points for us, and when we talked to E1, our goals were very much matching.
“They’re looking to do things differently, not just because they’ve got racing boats instead of racing cars, but also in terms of which teams they want to have in the championship.”
MFT is also exploring the possibility of racing in America in series like the IMSA Sportscars Championship but that may well be dependent on the rapidly changing nature of the international travel restrictions in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
To inspire and find the next generation of talents, MFT is also investing in sim racing – a discipline not bound by the same financial restraints as karting. Sim racing won’t just be a scouting tool for MFT but a competitive discipline to compete in as well.
Regardless of which championships it races in, the team is determined to “do things differently and shake up” motorsport to engage more younger fans from a wider range of backgrounds, across the globe.
And on the evidence of the recommendations and case study that they contributed to the Hamilton Commission’s report as well as conversations with the two leading figures behind it, MFT is going to be delivering and inspiring a real and long overdue change within the motorsport industry.