Mercedes will run a revised all-black base livery on its 2020 Formula 1 car this season as a “statement that we stand against racism and discrimination in all forms”.
The world championship-winning team’s reigning title winner Lewis Hamilton, F1’s only black driver in history, has been an active supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement that has regained major public recognition in recent weeks.
Hamilton’s activism, which includes setting up The Hamilton Commission to research how motorsport can encourage young black students to engage in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects at school, has helped his fellow drivers and F1 as a whole lend its support to the movement.
Ahead of this week’s season-opening Austrian Grand Prix, Mercedes has revealed an updated livery for its 2020 car, while Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas will wear black race suits and revise their crash helmet designs.
An ‘End Racism’ message will feature on the halo of both cars, and F1’s new initiative #WeRaceAsOne will be on the W11’s mirrors.
“It’s so important that we seize this moment and use it to educate ourselves whether you are an individual, brand or company to make real meaningful changes when it comes to ensuring equality and inclusivity,” said Hamilton.
“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.
“When I spoke to Toto [Wolff, team principal] 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.”
Mercedes says the livery is a “public pledge to further improve the diversity of our team and our sport”, recognising that only 3% of its workforce identify as belonging to minority ethnic groups and only 12% are women.
“This lack of diversity shows that we need to find new approaches to attract talent from many areas of society we do not currently reach,” says Mercedes.
“We know that our team will be stronger if we can attract talents from the broadest possible pool and we are committed to achieving this through positive action.”
Mercedes will also launch a “Diversity and Inclusion programme” before the end of the season that it says will “include but not be limited to continuing to listen to and raise the awareness of our team members, forensic analysis of our recruitment and development processes, collaboration with the sport’s key stakeholders to improve accessibility to our sport, and targeted education initiatives to encourage and support talented people from under-represented backgrounds who aspire to reach F1”.
It says it has an “irreversible” commitment to making a “measurable difference”.
“Racism and discrimination have no place in our society, our sport or our team: this is a core belief at Mercedes,” said Wolff. “But having the right beliefs and the right mindset isn’t enough if we remain silent.
“We wish to use our voice and our global platform to speak up for respect and equality, and the Silver Arrow will race in black for the entire 2020 season to show our commitment to greater 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.
“We intend to find and attract the very best talents from the broadest possible range of backgrounds, and to create credible pathways for them to reach our sport, in order to build a stronger and more diverse team in the future.
“I would also like to use this opportunity to thank our parent company Mercedes-Benz and our family of team partners who have supported and encouraged this initiative.”