Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One team has announced that their cars will don a black livery for the 2020 season as a statement that the reigning champions “stand against racism and all forms of discrimination.”
Team drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas will also wear all-black overalls, as opposed to their usual all-white.
Six-time world champion Hamilton, who is the only Black driver on the Formula One grid, has been at the heart of the call for increased diversity in the sport.
Speaking of the new paint-job, Hamilton said: “When I spoke to (team prinicpal) Toto (Wolff) about my hopes for what we could achieve as a team, I said it was so important that we stand united.
“I would like to say a huge thank you to Toto and the Mercedes board for taking the time to listen, to talk, and to really understand my experiences and passion, and for making this important statement that we are willing to change and improve as a business.
“We want to build a legacy that goes beyond sport, and if we can be the leaders and can start building more diversity within our own business, it will send such a strong message and give others the confidence to begin a dialogue about how they can implement change.”
On June 20, he announced the formation of the Hamilton Commission on June 20, a research partnership with the Royal Academy of Engineering dedicated to exploring how motorsport can be used to engage more young people from Black backgrounds with STEM subjects and ultimately employ them on racing teams or in other engineering sectors.
Mercedes also announced that the move is “a public pledge to improve diversity” at the team.
The team said while employees say “the experience within our team is an inclusive one,” just 3% of the workforce identify as belonging to a minority ethnic group and only 12% of employees are women.
The six-time constructors’ champions have established their intention to address this disparity with “positive action” and have said that their “commitment to doing this is irreversible.”
The move comes just days after former Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone said often “Black people are more racist than White people” and that nothing had been done about addressing issues of diversity and inclusion in the sport because people were “too busy trying to win races or find sponsors or something.”
Taking to Instagram, Hamilton said: “If someone who has run the sport for decades has such a lack of understanding of the deep routed (sic) issues we as black people deal with every day, how can we expect all the people who work under him to understand. It starts at the top.
“Now the time has come for change. I will not stop pushing to create an inclusive future for our sport with equal opportunity for all.”