Hamilton: Mercedes’ rivals must do more on anti-racism message

Ahead of the season opener, Mercedes released a modified all-black car livery for its 2020 F1 car as part of an initiative to improve diversity in its race team, publicly stating that only 3 percent of its workforce identify as belonging to an ethnic minority, while just 12 percent are women.

After winning the Styrian Grand Prix over the weekend, Hamilton raised a fist on the podium. He praised Mercedes for how it has come together in support of the message, something he thinks the rest of the team’s rivals and the championship itself can use as an example.

“But no other team has said a single thing. Whilst we have seen the Red Bull mechanics take a knee, which i think is great, but publicly as business and team, if you look at Ferrari, who have thousands of people working with them, I have heard no word from Ferrari saying they hold themselves accountable and this is what they are going to do for their future.

“We need the teams to do that. And F1 and the FIA to be the leaders in those scenarios and say ‘Hey guys, everyone needs to pull together and fight for this so we can improve.’ I think a lot of people don’t know what the problem is. Some people deny there is a problem and that’s why I put this commission together.”

In the weeks leading up to the new F1 season, Hamilton launched a commission aimed at improving diversity in motor racing and providing a pathway for more people from ethnic minorities.

“Everyone has their opinion but I want to get to the bottom of it, and so when we are putting money into it, we know the cause and that is the root goal.”

On Mercedes itself, he said: “I was so proud of seeing my team acknowledging it and taking a knee and what Mercedes have done this year in terms of really moving forward as the leader. It is massively encouraging.

“What we do moving forward, I really don’t know. I am learning just as everyone is, but what I can say is, this is not it.

“Us taking a knee at the start of the race and having a black car, that doesn’t solve the problem. We have a whole season for it. A whole year and in my mind, this is a constant fight we all have to do.”

F1’s broadcast of the anti-racism message ahead of the Styrian Grand Prix, the name given to the second race at Austria’s Red Bull Ring, was criticised for how quickly it cut away from the drivers kneeling on the grid for a shot of Red Bull parachutists over the circuit.

Hamilton said the organisation of the second attempt at an anti-racism message was not good enough and that some of his rivals were reluctant to do something again.

“Before the first race, I had been on several zoom calls with the heads of Formula One and together we had come up with a plan that this is what we were going to do at the start of the first race.There wasn’t a follow-up and none of us were contacted, so there wasn’t a plan to do it again, for whatever reason.

“So when the drivers did the briefing on a Zoom chat, we had this debate on whether we were going to do this again. I said, ‘Well guys, I am going to continue to do it.’ There were some who were like ‘Well, I already did it last week, I am not doing it again.’

“There are some who continued to have the same approach as they had the first week and that’s why I tried to spend a bit of time with those who had chosen to stand, just to have a chat. From it, from a driver’s point of view, we are going to come closer during this period of time, but I am not saying everyone will take a knee.

“I would like to think that at some stage we will all be together understanding taking the knee. But today, because we planned it and it wasn’t in the FIA schedule, so it was all a rush.

“We were supposed to be there at 2:45 [p.m.] — I was there at 2:50 and the guys were coming from much further back so we just got on with it. Some did try to get there but it was too late. Moving forward, we would try to do a better job if we are to do the same thing, but it is not my choice.”

Source: ESPN  Image: Getty