Mercedes F1 team to field black cars, not silver, to mark Black Lives Matter

Reuters



Formula One champion Mercedes unveiled black-liveried cars for the 2020 season on Monday as part of a public pledge to further improve diversity within the team and the world of motorsport.

Mercedes has traditionally raced in silver throughout its time in Formula One but will switch to black and have "End Racism" emblazoned on the halo of both cars.

The team said 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."

The new livery will make its debut when Britain's world champion Lewis Hamilton and Finnish teammate Valtteri Bottas feature in the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday.

"Racism and discrimination have no place in our society, our sport or our team: this is a core belief at Mercedes," Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said in a statement.


"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."

Mercedes said only 3% of its workforce identified as belonging to minority ethnic groups, while just 12% are women.

The team plans to launch a diversity and inclusion program before the end of the season as it looks to improve those numbers and encourage more people from under-represented backgrounds into Formula One.

Six-times Formula One champion 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."

 

Delayed season begins

Formula One starts its season in Austria this week, nearly four months later than planned due to the COVID-19 pandemic and against a very different backdrop, even if Lewis Hamilton's targets remain the same.

The six-time world champion can equal Ferrari great Michael Schumacher's record seven while his Mercedes team bids for an unprecedented seventh successive drivers' and constructors' title double.

Hamilton is raring to compete but aware he faces new and unexpected challenges.

"We are preparing the best way we can for what is going to be the most difficult season that Formula One and all of us have experienced," the 35-year-old said in a Mercedes video.

Since the traditional Australian opener was canceled in March, Formula One has agreed to changes to help teams hard-hit by COVID-19.

Driver moves for 2021 have been announced already, including the departure of Hamilton's old rival Sebastian Vettel from Ferrari at the end of 2020.

This year's only rookie, Canadian Nicholas Latifi, could find his Williams team under new ownership before his first campaign is over.

There is also lingering uncertainty about how many grands prix the season will hold with seven cancelled so far and more likely to follow.

Eight rounds, all in Europe and without spectators for the first time, feature on a provisional calendar but the sport still hopes to muster 15-18 races, even if that means several circuits hosting two each.

 

Two races

Sunday will be the first time Austria has hosted a season-opener, at Spielberg's scenic Red Bull Ring, and the following weekend will see another milestone when the circuit becomes the first to host two F1 championship races in the same season.

That could be good news for Dutch crowd-pleaser Max Verstappen, who has brought a home victory for Red Bull for the past two years.

There will be no fans, no sponsors, no hospitality units or VIPs and no socializing between teams within a paddock "bubble" where safe spacing and face masks are the "new normal" and everything will take a little longer.

Where the teams stand in the pecking order is also unclear. They have not run their cars in anger since February testing, and have not raced since December.

Hamilton, who needs seven more wins to equal Schumacher's record 91, should have a faster car than would have been the case had the season started in Australia on March 15 but so too will rivals bringing months' worth of updates.

Vettel, a four times world champion, has an uncertain future and will want to go out on a high in his last campaign for Ferrari.

McLaren's Carlos Sainz will take the German's place alongside Charles Leclerc in 2021, with Australian Daniel Ricciardo moving from Renault to replace the Spaniard.

 

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