Hamil­ton urges unity as Mercedes use black liv­ery

Sil­ver Ar­rows un­veil change in com­mit­ment to di­ver­sity Team prin­ci­pal Wolff re­veals de­tailed re­view of re­cruit­ment

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - For­mula One By Oliver Brown

As For­mula One seeks to re­build its gut­ted shell of a sea­son in Aus­tria this week, world cham­pi­ons Mercedes are poised to de­liver their most strik­ing state­ment yet, un­veil­ing an all-black base liv­ery in sol­i­dar­ity with Black Lives Mat­ter, the move­ment pas­sion­ately cham­pi­oned by Lewis Hamil­ton.

While a change of colour scheme might ap­pear from a dis­tance a largely cos­metic ges­ture, it marks a rad­i­cal shift in iden­tity for the Sil­ver Ar­rows, who, in com­mon with ri­val teams, have come un­der in­tense pres­sure to re­form from Hamil­ton’s ad­vo­cacy for greater di­ver­sity in F1.

Toto Wolff, team prin­ci­pal, dis­closed yes­ter­day that Mercedes’ aes­thetic re­vamp, also fea­tur­ing the slo­gan “End Racism” on the ha­los of both cars, would be matched by a de­tailed re­view of the team’s re­cruit­ment pol­icy.

Across Mercedes, only three per cent of the work­force be­long to mi­nor­ity eth­nic groups, while just 12 per cent of em­ploy­ees are women. “Hav­ing the right be­liefs and the right mind­set isn’t enough if we re­main silent,” Wolff said. “We wish to use our voice and our global plat­form to speak up for re­spect and equal­ity.

“The Sil­ver Ar­rows will race in black for the en­tire 2020 sea­son, to show our com­mit­ment to di­ver­sity within our team and our sport. We will not shy away from our weak­nesses in this area, nor from the progress we must still make. Our liv­ery is our pub­lic pledge to take pos­i­tive ac­tion.”

Wolff in­sisted that Mercedes would re­think its ap­proach to en­tice tal­ent from the broad­est spec­trum. The team’s rein­ven­tion marks the lat­est phase of a re­mark­able awak­en­ing in F1, which has tended to move glacially on mat­ters of race. In the space of a fort­night, Chase Carey, the sport’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, has do­nated more than £800,000 of his own money to fund a di­ver­sity task force, aimed at en­cour­ag­ing young rac­ers from un­der-rep­re­sented back­grounds, while sav­aging pre­de­ces­sor Bernie Ec­cle­stone, whose con­tri­bu­tion to a sen­si­tive de­bate was to ar­gue: “In lots of cases, black peo­ple are more racist than white peo­ple.”

Hamil­ton, who has also con­demned Ec­cle­stone’s re­marks, was the cat­a­lyst for Mercedes’ change in look and phi­los­o­phy, spell­ing out clearly to Wolff and the team’s board the progress he ex­pected.

“It’s so im­por­tant that we seize this mo­ment and use it to ed­u­cate our­selves,” he said. “I have per­son­ally ex­pe­ri­enced racism in my life, as have my fam­ily and friends, and I am speak­ing from the heart when I ap­peal for change.

“When I spoke to Toto about my hopes for what we could achieve as a team, I said it was im­por­tant that we stand united. I would like to say a huge thank you to him for tak­ing the time to lis­ten, to talk, and to un­der­stand my ex­pe­ri­ences and pas­sion, and for mak­ing this im­por­tant state­ment that we are will­ing to change and im­prove.

“We want to build a legacy that goes be­yond sport, and if we can be the lead­ers by build­ing di­ver­sity within our own busi­ness, it will send a strong mes­sage.”

While Mercedes’ cars will re­tain the green trim of ti­tle spon­sor Petronas, the red el­e­ments of prin­ci­pal part­ner Ineos, and the speck­ling of the signature three­p­ointed star on its en­gine cover, the rest of the liv­ery will be vividly black. The team’s tran­si­tion from sil­ver, a fea­ture since its de­but in 1954, will be far from the only sym­bol of F1’s pro­gres­sive cre­den­tials in Aus­tria. The sport launched its “We Race As One” cam­paign last week and in­tends to brand all 20 cars with the slo­gan in Spiel­berg. Hamil­ton has an­nounced that he is cre­at­ing a com­mis­sion in part­ner­ship with the Royal Academy of En­gi­neer­ing to in­crease black par­tic­i­pa­tion in mo­tor­sport. Valt­teri Bot­tas, Hamil­ton’s team-mate, said: “F1 is a world de­fined by per­for­mance, but it still con­tains many bar­ri­ers for peo­ple from back­grounds that haven’t tra­di­tion­ally been part of the sport. We know that our teams are stronger when they are more rep­re­sen­ta­tive of so­ci­ety.” Both driv­ers will race in black over­alls un­til the end of the 2020 cham­pi­onship.

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