Formula 1 will organise an anti-racism protest before Sunday’s British Grand Prix following criticisms of the sport’s approach to the subject.
The move comes in the wake of Lewis Hamilton accusing F1 and governing body the FIA of “lacking leadership” on the issue after the last race in Hungary.
F1 is to specify a time in the schedule for the protest.
It will allow drivers and other personnel to demonstrate their opposition to racism.
Senior figures and drivers were concerned by poorly co-ordinated protests at the last two races.
The sport began the season proclaiming an anti-racism and inclusivity campaign – and at the opening race in Austria, a demonstration was organised at the front of the grid before the national anthem for drivers to show their support.
All drivers wore “end racism” T-shirts, other than Hamilton, whose said “Black Lives Matter”.
Most drivers took the knee alongside Hamilton, employing a gesture that originated in American football’s NFL as a protest against racism and police brutality. But six drivers who were not comfortable with what they saw as the political connotations of that action chose to remain standing.
At the subsequent two races, no time was allocated in the schedule and drivers ended up running to make it in time, some not managing it, and the protest not being effectively covered by the television broadcast.
Hamilton said after winning in Hungary: “F1 did an OK job at the first race. It’s not good enough in terms of what you see in other sports, but still it was a step forwards. And then it’s almost like it’s gone off the agenda after that.
“It’s lacking leadership – and ultimately, we perform in a sport. There needs to be leadership from the top. They need to come out with: ‘This is what we’re going to do and we want you all to be part of it.’ And there is none of that.”
Before the British Grand Prix, F1 and the FIA have told the drivers and teams that there will be a specific time for the anti-racism protest allocated in the pre-race schedule.
All drivers will be required to assemble and T-shirts will again be provided, but it will be left to each individual to demonstrate their support in their own way.
After winning in Hungary, Hamilton said part of the problem with the chaotic protests was that “from a drivers’ point of view, many people seem to be of the opinion that they have done it once and they’re not going to do it again”.
Hamilton also implied that some of the objection to the protest in general – and taking the knee specifically – may be caused by personal animosity towards him.
“I try not to lean so much on the drivers because I don’t want them to feel it’s me who’s doing it, because that probably could be in some cases the reason they don’t want to do it – because they think I’m doing it,” the Mercedes driver said.
“But I don’t think it’s being taken seriously. There are perhaps people who have not grown up around it so don’t understand it, and there are those that think because of that, ‘it doesn’t affect me’. I have heard those comments: ‘It doesn’t do anything for me, so why should I do it?’
“But it’s not about me and it’s not about you. It’s about this fight that the world… people out there who are experiencing discrimination. That’s what we’re fighting for – we’re fighting for change in organisations.”