Ahead of the delayed start of the season, the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One team unveiled its 2020 livery Monday. The reigning-champion Silver Arrows will race in black this season, in what the team called a statement against racism and discrimination. In a press release, Mercedes said it will also work to improve diversity within the team.
A response to recent Black Lives Matter protests, the livery will also feature the slogan “End Racism” on the halos of both W11 race cars, as well as “#WeRaceAsOne” on the mirrors. The latter is the tagline for an F1-wide diversity campaign announced last week. Drivers will wear black overalls, and are also “adapting their helmet designs,” according to Mercedes.
Before the end of the season, the team will also adopt a diversity and inclusion program. Mercedes said only 3% of the current workforce identify as non-white, and only 12% are women. The program will include a “forensic analysis” of current recruitment practices, and targeted efforts to give people from under-represented backgrounds access to F1, according to the team.
These efforts follow the lead of Mercedes’ star driver, reigning champion Lewis Hamilton, who is the only Black driver in F1. The six-time world champion recently launched the Hamilton Commission, a partnership with the U.K. Royal Academy of Engineering to engage more young Black people in STEM subjects, and create greater opportunities for them in motorsports.
Mercedes-AMG’s Lewis Hamilton at the 2018 Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix
“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,” Hamilton said in a statement.
The 2020 F1 season kicks off July 3-5 in Austria, after a four-month delay due to the coronavirus pandemic. Eight European races are currently planned, with safety precautions to prevent transmission of the virus.
F1 isn’t the only series grappling with racism. Last week, ahead of a NASCAR race at Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama, a noose was found in the garage of Darrell “Bubba” Wallace, Jr., NASCAR’s only full-time Black driver. An investigation found that a garage door pull rope had been tied like a noose, and had been hanging in the garage for months.
The episode occurred shortly after NASCAR banned Confederate flags from its events, in response to criticism from Wallace, who also drove a #BlackLivesMatter-liveried car at a race in Martinsville, Virginia, earlier this month. In protest, a group carrying Confederate flags protested outside of Talladega during the race weekend.