Lewis Hamilton will race in an all-black Mercedes to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement when the Formula One season finally begins this week.
The reigning world champion has been outspoken about the lack of diversity in the sport and last month hit out his fellow drivers for ‘staying silent’ in the wake of George Floyd’s shocking death at the hands of a police officer in the US.
But in a bid to show they ‘stand against racism and all forms of discrimination’, Mercedes have abandoned their traditional ‘Silver Arrows’ trim for the 2020 season.
Mercedes’s new all-black design will support the Black Lives Matter movement this season
Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton has been vocal about the lack of diversity in F1
Hamilton and his team-mate, Valterri Bottas, will instead race in an all-black base livery ‘as a public pledge to improve the diversity’ of Mercedes when the delayed season starts with the Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday.
Both drivers will also wear black overalls and adapt the designs of their helmets in order to reflect the campaign.
The message ‘End Racism’ will be displayed on the halo of both cars, while the new F1 initiative #WeRaceAsOne will feature on the mirrors.
Hamilton, who attended a Black Lives Matter protest in London earlier this month, worked closely with Mercedes and team principal Toto Wolff on the project.
Speaking about Mercedes’ decision to design the black car, Hamilton said: ‘It’s so important that we seize this moment and use it to educate ourselves whether you are an individual, brand or company to make real meaningful changes when it comes to ensuring equality and inclusivity.
The British Mercedes driver was seen at a Black Lives Matter protest in London this month
Mercedes are ditching their traditional ‘Silver Arrows’ trim for 2020 to help fight racism
‘I have personally experienced racism in my life and seen my family and friends experience racism, and I am speaking from the heart when I appeal for change.
‘When I spoke to Toto [Wolff] about my hopes for what we could achieve as a team, I said it was so important that we stand united.
‘I would like to say a huge thank you to Toto and the Mercedes Board for taking the time to listen, to talk, and to really understand my experiences and passion, and for making this important statement that we are willing to change and improve as a business.
‘We want to build a legacy that goes beyond sport, and if we can be the leaders and can start building more diversity within our own business, it will send such a strong message and give others the confidence to begin a dialogue about how they can implement change.’
Hamilton has been a vocal leader in talking about the need for the sport to be more diverse
Hamilton had claimed that he ‘stands alone’ as a black F1 driver in a white dominated sport
Mercedes say they plan to announce a diversity and inclusion programme before the end of the season that will involve ‘continuing to listen to and raise the awareness of our team members; forensic analysis of our recruitment and development processes; collaboration with the sport’s key stakeholders to improve accessibility to our sport; and targeted education initiatives to encourage and support talented people from under-represented backgrounds who aspire to reach F1.’
The move comes after Hamilton blasted the lack of diversity in F1 and accused his other drivers of ignoring Floyd’s death, the incident which sparked huge Black Lives Matter protests around the world for over a month.
In a number of Instagram post on May 31, Hamilton wrote: ‘I see those of you staying silent, some of you the biggest stars yet you stay in the midst of injustice.
‘Not a sign from anybody in my industry which of course is a white dominated sport. I’m one of the only people of colour there yet I stand alone. I would have thought by now you would see why this happens and say something about it but you can’t stand alongside us.
Hamilton criticised the lack of racial diversity in his own sport on Instagram last month
Hamilton also called for several world leaders to educate their countries on racial principles
‘Just know I know who you are and I see you.’
Hamilton added: ‘I do not stand with those looting and burning buildings but with those who are protesting peacefully.
‘There can be no peace until our so called leaders make change. This is not just America, this is the UK, this is Spain, this is Italy and all over.
‘The way minorities are treated has to change, how you educate those in your country of inequality, racism, classism and that we are all born the same!
‘We are not born with racism and hate in our hearts, it is taught by those we look up to.’
Last week, Formula One expanded on its new ‘We Race As One’ initiative by announcing it will plough $1million (£800,000) into helping those from under represented groups gain a career in the sport.
In partnership with the FIA, F1 will look to help under represented drivers from karting level and above to try and realise their dreams of becoming a grand prix driver by eliminating systemic barriers they may come across.
Hamilton will begin the defence of his world championship in Austria later this week
Teams will display the ‘#WeRaceAsOne’ rainbow on their cars at the opening race of the season
To help promote the cause, teams will display the initiative’s rainbow logo on their cars at the opening round of the 2020 season at the Red Bull Ring.
A task force will be set up over the next few months including representatives from drivers and teams as well as diversity experts outside of the sport.
As well as helping potential future drivers, the scheme will also aim to help those from unrepresented groups gain access to possible careers in F1, with focus on education and employment opportunities.
Working alongside the taskforce will be an initiative to primarily, but not exclusively, help fund the under represented groups with internships and apprenticeships within the sport.
The initial $1million input was financed by F1 boss Chase Carey, and it is hoped support and and funding for interns and scholarship opportunities will increase in the future.
F1 chief Chase Carey has ploughed $1million into funding the task force and foundation
Carey admitted the sport was not diverse enough and wanted to do more to help those from all backgrounds.
‘We fully recognise that Formula One needs to be more inclusive and diverse,’ Carey said.
‘While we set out our strategy last year to improve the position of our sport, we need, and want, to do more.
‘That is why we will establish a Task Force to listen and ensure the right initiatives are identified to increase diversity in Formula One. We want to ensure we give people from all backgrounds the best chances to work in Formula One regardless of their gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or physical abilities.
‘We are therefore also taking the initial step of creating a foundation to support key educational and employment opportunities across Formula 1 that will give under-represented talent the chance to work in this incredible sport and build an exciting career.’
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