Sir Jackie Stewart spoke exclusively to today’s Good Morning Britain of his work to find a dementia cure and diversity within Formula 1.
Speaking of his wife Helen, who was diagnosed with dementia, he said: “We’ve got to find a cure for dementia. Helen’s had it now for four or five years now, it only gets worse.”
“It’s such a big, big illness today. Dementia affects everyone. 1 in 3 people born today will die of dementia if we don’t do something different.”
He added: “There’s not enough focus on dementia research. For every 1 dementia scientist there are more than 4 cancer scientists. The medical profession has to change that. There are more people dying of dementia than cancer. It really is a big challenge.”
Speaking of his wife having been his racing timekeeper, he said: “[She was] sharp as a needle. Now it’s very difficult for Helen to remember almost anything. It’s really an illness that’s affecting everybody all around the world today. There’s more people going to die of dementia than any other illness. But there’s not enough money being spent in research.“
And of his charity Race Against Dementia, he said: “We need to accelerate the process, new ways of doing things. We’re investing £1.5million to appoint new researchers.”
“We’re going to take them into F1, in McLaren and Red Bull, where problem-solving happens faster than any other activity. We need a new way of doing business to try and get a cure for dementia and even more importantly preventative medicine.”
Asked his opinion on Lewis Hamilton’s recent comments that there’s not enough diversity in Formula 1 and that there’s a cultural problem, he said:
“I think Lewis for example, has been a great example to an awful lot of people. He’s a wonderful driver, he’s got an enormous number of victories behind him and he’s quite vocal about all his elements. I don’t think there’s as big a problem as there might be seen. For example, Cranfield University in England started having women get more interest in engineering in motorsport. Now suddenly, we’ve got a huge number of women in F1, because they’ve gone to good universities and been well educated etc. Now, in Lewis’s case, if it’s colour he refers to, that again, can change very rapidly. There’s no resistance to change in F1. If somebody is clever and good at what they do, they’re going to be taken into F1.”
Confirming his opinion that F1 could be more active in change, he said: “Absolutely. What we need to do is be sure that whatever colour, man or woman, they’ve got to be educated within that particular area of engineering.”
“If we had different races wanting to get into Formula 1, they have to do it through education. That, I think, is wide open for whoever, whatever colour, whatever language anybody speaks. There are many different languages in Formula 1.”
He added: “It’s just a question of who wants to be part of it, who wants to be getting into it.”
Good Morning Britain, weekdays from 6am on ITV.