When Formula One returns to racing this weekend in Austria, it will do so in a world that has changed profoundly since the teams last gathered in Melbourne in early March. Our sport’s united response to the global Covid-19 pandemic, in the form of Project Pitlane, showcased the very best capability that Formula One has to offer.
However, in the past five weeks, the Black Lives Matter movement has shone a searching light on how much we need new measures and actions in the fight against racism and all forms of discrimination. As a team, we have used the past weeks to listen to the perspectives of our team members, to learn and to reflect on our team as it is today and how we want it to be in the future.
We are proud of our culture and our values. We prize the contribution of every individual, and our team members tell us that the experience within our team is an inclusive one. But in our organisation, just three per cent of our workforce identify as belonging to minority ethnic groups and only 12% of our employees 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. 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.
For 2020, we have chosen to race in an all-black base livery as a public pledge to improve the diversity of our team – and a clear statement that we stand against racism and all forms of discrimination. The call to ‘End Racism’ will feature on the halo of both cars, and the united F1 initiative #WeRaceAsOne will be featured on the mirrors of the W11.
Before the end of this season, we will announce a Diversity and Inclusion programme that 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. We know that it will take time to build the right strategy, and consistent effort and investment year on year, and decade on decade, to make a measurable difference; our commitment to doing this is irreversible.
Markus Schaefer, Member of the Board of Management Daimler AG, Responsible for Group Research and Non-Executive Chairman of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team said: “In recent weeks, events around the world have reinforced the importance of continuing to fight against racism and all forms of discrimination. At Mercedes, we know that the strength of our organisation lies in the diversity of our people, and we are proud to be able to use one of our most prominent global platforms to signal our commitment to this fundamental principle of our society and our business.”
Toto Wolff, Team Principal & CEO of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team commented: “Racism and discrimination have no place in our society, our sport or our team: this is a core belief at Mercedes. 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.”
At the heart of our commitment to fighting racism and discrimination are our drivers, and most prominently six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton. Lewis recently announced the formation of the Hamilton Commission, 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 our teams or in other engineering sectors. Lewis and Valtteri will race in black overalls for the 2020 season, with both drivers also adapting their helmet designs.
Lewis Hamilton said: “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. 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 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.”
Valtteri Bottas concluded: “Formula One is a world that is defined by performance, but it still contains many barriers for people who come from backgrounds that haven’t traditionally been part of the sport. We know that our teams are stronger when they are more representative of the society we are part of, and it is important for us to be united and show our commitment to change. Racism and discrimination have no place in our sport or in our society and I am proud to stand with the team, with Lewis and with Mercedes-Benz in making this important statement.”