Drivers to take collective stand against discrimination and will be free to show support in their own way ahead of Sunday’s race
Last Updated: 04/07/20 7:59pm
Formula 1’s drivers will take a collective stand against racism ahead of Sunday’s season-opening Austrian GP, as the sport calls for an end to all forms of discrimination.
The Grand Prix Drivers’ Association comprises all 20 drivers and the group have held discussions with chairman Alex Wurz on how they will show their support in recent days.
A GPDA statement said drivers will be free to express their support in their own way. It is understood that drivers will have the opportunity to take a knee on the grid ahead of the national anthem.
“The Grand Prix Drivers’ Association has held a number of virtual meetings with all 20 drivers to agree how best to show their collective support for the fight against racism ahead of this weekend’s Grand Prix,” read a statement.
“All 20 drivers stand united with their teams against racism and prejudice, at the same time embracing the principles of diversity, equality and inclusion and supporting Formula 1’s commitment to these.
“Together the drivers will all show their public support for this cause on Sunday ahead of the race, recognising and respecting that each individual has the freedom to show their support for ending racism in their own way and will be free to choose how to do this ahead of the race start on Sunday.”
Six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton has been a powerful and leading voice on the topic of diversity and equality and has revealed plans to launch a research project in his own name to improve inclusion in the motorsport industry.
Asked after qualifying if he planed to show his support by taking a knee on the grid ahead of the race, Hamilton said: “Honestly, I don’t have any plans at the moment. I’ve not thought that far forward but I’m sure over the evening we will… we spoke a bit in the drivers’ briefing and yup, interesting but it’s good that we’re kind of all at least in discussion and I don’t know what we’ll see tomorrow.
“I think, potentially, people paying their respects in their own ways.”
F1 have also reaffirmed its own commitment to diversity by launching We Race As One, an initiative which includes the setting up of a task force to improve opportunities for all.
In an interview with Sky Sports, F1 chairman Chase Carey explained: “We last year came out with two primary social initiatives. Sustainability, the environmental issue, and diversity.
“How do you provide educational opportunities to those who don’t have the same opportunities many do? And how do you provide opportunities?
“It’s education and jobs. So we’ve announced this taskforce and with the taskforce [the aim is] to try and provide opportunities. We do think education and opportunity is at the core.”
GPDA director Romain Grosjean said it was crucial that F1 took a stand.
“It’s been a big thing in the world and Formula 1 is reacting in the right direction. We are global sport, we have a lot of audience and we can send some very strong messages,” said the Haas driver.
“As you can imagine within the GPDA we’ve had a lot of talk about what are the right messages, what should we do, when is the right time and so on. Diversity is key. I think it’s very important we do as much as we can in that aspect and we support the right initiative.”
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen said: “I think everyone should be against racism. We try to make a very strong statement, I think everyone tries that in the best possible way, so we’ll definitely make sure that is going to happen. Everyone of course needs to feel very comfortable and equal.”