Driving the programme forward with his ideas in the new role, Ribbs himself is now going into schools to promote STEM subjects in conjunction with F1. He says he can already see the positive effect of both F1’s new BAME initiatives and Lewis Hamilton’s role as a figurehead of the sport.
“The kids knew about F1 as much as I did,” he says laughing. “They might not know who Giuseppe Farina is, but their understanding of why F1 cars look the way they look, why they’re designed the way are – that was their school project, [and] that’s just the start for them.
“It used to be that a lot of young African American kids in this country wanted to be NASCAR drivers. Well, that trend is changing and fast.”
“Lewis has opened up the world. You won’t see someone like him again for 100 years”
Ribbs is in no doubt as to who to attribute that too: “Lewis has opened up the world. You won’t see someone like him again for 100 years.
“I think F1 as a business has learned from having Lewis, because they’re making more money now than ever, and diversity makes money. You can use Tiger Woods as an example: if all people can identify with you, then you make more money.”
Outside of the classroom and at the track, the former IndyCar driver has observed positive change too.