Formula One will allow drivers to take a knee if they wish to protest racial inequality on the podium, following suggestions that Lewis Hamilton is prepared to do exactly that in Austria when the season starts next month.
The six-times F1 world champion highlighted the silence from the sport over Floyd’s killing, which occurred while he was unarmed in police custody and triggered numerous protests around the world over racial inequality and injustice. His comments prompted a number of drivers and teams to speak out in support of black, Asian and minority ethnic (Bame) people, as did F1 and the governing body the FIA.
The Daily Mail reported on Tuesday that 35-year-old Hamilton will take a knee in Austria when the delayed 2020 season gets underway on 3-5 July, which mirrors the stance taken by exiled NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick following his protests against police brutality against the Bame community.
In response, F1 have confirmed that any driver or team member who wishes to “show their support” at an upcoming grand prix will have their approval, and will not face any sanction.
“This is a very important issue and we support anyone who wants to show their support in the fight against racism,” an F1 spokesman said.
The move follows Hamilton’s latest message in his effort to highlight the Black Lives Matter movement, in which he stressed that “real change starts with us” to suggest that he is considering taking action himself when the sport restarts in two-and-a-half weeks’ time.
“This week, I have felt so inspired by the thousands of people across the globe using their voices to speak out against racial injustice,” Hamilton wrote on Twitter.
“ Fighting for real change starts with us, whether peacefully protesting, showing support on social media or signing petitions #blacklivesmatter.”
Hamilton considered taking a knee three years ago when Kaepernick was banished from the NFL for his anti-racism stance, but decided against doing so at the United States Grand Prix that year.
However, the killing of Floyd and other black American citizens has cast more attention than ever before on the level of racial inequality across society, and the FIA has stressed that they are committed to fighting discrimination, according to president Jean Todt.
“The FIA is a global actor and its role doesn’t stop at the frontiers of motor sport and mobility,” Todt said.
“Our Federation will continue to be guided for all motorsport and mobility matters by the Fundamental Principles of our Statutes which state that the FIA should fight any form of discrimination and notably on account of skin colour, religion, ethnic or social origin.
“As we promote gender equality with the FIA Women in Motor Sport Commission, we must promote diversity in motorsport.”