Formula One chiefs are investigating whether Lewis Hamilton broke rules by wearing a T-shirt in honour of Breonna Taylor at the Tuscan Grand Prix on Sunday.
A spokesperson for the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) told the BBC the matter was “under active consideration” as the FIA is a non-political governing body whose statutes might have been broken when Hamilton sported the T-shirt.
“Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor,” read the front of Hamilton’s T-shirt, which the race winner wore during a pre-race anti-racism demonstration and again on the podium. “Say her name,” was the message on the back.
Taylor was a black woman who was killed by police when she was shot eight times in her home in Louisville, Kentucky in March.
Asked whether the FIA deemed the T-shirt to be carrying a political message, its spokesperson said: “That’s the consideration we are looking into,” though it was not clear which statute might have been broken.
Hamilton said after the race: “I’ve been wanting to bring awareness to the fact there are people being killed on the street. And someone was killed in her own house and [the police] were in the wrong house and those guys are still walking free.”
F1 and the FIA have come together in creating an anti-racism campaign this season, which includes the afore-mentioned anti-racism demonstrations before every race. The FIA’s spokesperson said the governing body has been working with Hamilton, F1’s only black driver, on its diversity programme.
On Saturday, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said the team would continue to support Hamilton in highlighting racial injustice.
“No question, it is entirely his decision,” Wolff said. “Whatever he does, we will support. The team is fighting against any kind of racism and discrimination and it is Lewis’ personal fight for Black Lives Matter and with all the support we can give him. It’s his call.”
After the race, Mercedes’ Twitter account responded to a user who suggested that Hamilton should “keep politics out of F1”, saying: “We’re not bringing politics into F1; these are human rights issues that we’re trying to highlight and raise awareness of.”
The sole reference to politics in the FIA’s statutes is a requirement to “refrain from manifesting discrimination on account of race, skin colour, gender, sexual orientation, ethnic or social origin, language, religion, philosophical or political opinion, family situation or disability in the course of its activities”.
Competitors must also avoid “affixing to their automobiles advertising that is political or religious in nature or that is prejudicial to the interests of the FIA”.