Racing driver Lewis Hamilton has said he forgives the teachers who doubted him at school and hopes they are proud of his achievements.
The four-time Formula One world champion revealed he was told he was “never going to amount to anything” as he juggled education with his racing ambitions, but was determined to prove people wrong.
Hamilton, who found out he was dyslexic when he was 17, said he “struggled” at school, was bullied and found teachers “weren’t very supportive”.
However, speaking at the Global Education and Skills Forum (GESF) in Dubai, Hamilton said: “I do like meeting people and trying to shift their mindset – there’s a lot of people to meet.
“But there are always going to be people criticising.
“I honestly think that when I was at school, it was a reflection of the difficult time my teachers were having.
“So I forgive my teachers today, I hope they are watching and they are proud.
“Because even though they had that one moment which was quite difficult for me to swallow, they still helped me, and hopefully they are in a better place today.”
Hamilton grew up in a council house in Stevenage and relied on the support of his father – who remortgaged their house three times – as he attempted to enter the expensive and “white-dominated” world of Formula One.
I’m just trying to give some inspirationLewis Hamilton
“I feel like our story is quite unique in the racing world because most of the people I race against, they’ve come from wealthier families,” Hamilton said.
His first go kart was a “fifth or sixth-hand” and bought from a newspaper advert, which dad Anthony Hamilton had to bend into the right shape.
Their arrival on the racing scene was a shock to some, Hamilton told the GESF audience.
“When we pulled up, the boot was open of the car and the kart was shoved in the back,” he said.
“So we were not professional at all and everyone else was more used to it, but then we turned heads and eventually people started to recognise us.”
Just a few months after he was criticised for making comments about his nephew wearing a dress, Hamilton admitted he was still “trying to find the right balance” in how he shares his life on social media.
He said: “I came from a council house in Stevenage and now I’m having lunch with the Queen, and I’m sitting with Nelson Mandela and I’m getting to experience these things that I’m so incredibly grateful for.
“I’m just trying to give some inspiration, but it is a very difficult tool to use.
“You can show everything and then get in trouble – and so trying to find the right balance is what I’m constantly faced with every day.”
He added: “I had no idea I had this responsibility – which I’m grateful for now – I feel like I’m growing all the time in how to utilise that and be that positive inspiration.”
Hamilton said he hoped in the coming years to discover the next rising talent in motor sport.
He said: “I would love to, at one stage, find the next me.
“I would love to be able to find the next kid that’s coming from nowhere, rather than all these wealthy kids that are going to have the opportunity.
“I want to find someone that’s coming from under a rock somewhere… and find some raw talent.
“It’s going to be difficult but I think that would be a great journey for me – and it would be pretty neat to see someone one day be where I am.”