Brazil’s young black racing driver is making headlines all over the world, for his success in Formula 4.
When he was 18, Nelson Piquet Jr. made history by becoming the youngest driver to ever win a Formula One Grand Prix (GP) when he won in Brazil at his home race in 2008. His career has seen him climb through the ranks of motor racing – from GP winner aged just 20-years old to experienced F1 champion and now aiming for an immediate return via IndyCar next year, all while fighting against institutional racism within motorsport’s ‘white man’s game’.
Brazilian racing driver Felipe Massa is one of the most promising young drivers in motorsports. He has made waves in recent years, and his future looks bright.
On Brazil’s motor racing circuits, a young Black driver has earned the title “Hamilton of the favelas,” and the popular prospect claims he is inspired by seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton to follow in his footsteps on and off the track.
Wallace Martins, who presently competes in Formula Delta, earned the moniker from other drivers because to his resemblance to Hamilton in appearance and racing style.
Martins, an affable 18-year-old, seems unconcerned with the similarity and says one of his ambitions is to be like the Britisher.
“I believe he is a driver who is highly committed to his work,” Martins stated. “After winning one race, he’s already planning on winning the next.”
“Then there’s his backstory. He is the only Black driver in Formula One and comes from an impoverished neighborhood. There’s a lot to be inspired by in his narrative.”
Martins, like Hamilton, who has spoken out against racism, has experienced a lot of roadblocks in his young career.
Even though he has never been outside of Brazil, he is racing against guys who have raced in the United States.
When he first began racing, he would compete once and then sit out the following two or three races while friends and relatives sold T-shirts and organized whip-rounds to gather enough money to get him back on the grid.
He tested automobiles and worked as a mechanic in exchange for food for his family during the epidemic.
He told Reuters, “None of it has been easy.” “Things have improved a lot, but it’s still not easy.”
This year, Lewis Hamilton won his seventh British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Getty Images/Dan Istitene/Formula 1/Formula 1
Martins started karting at the age of ten and progressed to Formula Vee and then Formula Delta after achieving success.
According to Driver DataBase, a motor racing website, he has eight victories and 21 podiums in 44 career races and is presently in third position in the Copa Yokohama, the award presented to the best rider throughout the season’s last three races.
The final race will take place on December 19 at Interlagos, the same track where Formula One drivers will compete this weekend.
Recent headlines about Martins’ skill and tribulations have helped him gain sponsors and shed awareness on his origins as a poor Black guy in a costly sport, but he understands how tough it is to get into Formula One.
“Everyone you see [racing] has a sponsor, and when you question them about it, they say they’re the son of the store owner or something like that,” Martins remarked flatly. “It’s thus a really elite sport.”
Despite the fact that Brazil is a hub for the sport, the country hasn’t had a top-level driver since Felipe Massa retired in 2017 and hasn’t had a drivers’ champion since Ayrton Senna in 1991.
Martins would have to leave Brazil and then rise through the ranks in Europe in order to succeed.
Even though he is still a teenager, he is aware that his presence is significant even at this level.
“One day, I want to be an influence for young people, for diversity,” he stated. “I get the impression that I am [breaking down walls]. I hope that other young individuals may one day achieve the same success as myself.”
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