McLaren Racing team principal Andreas Seidl says the drivers are permitted to do as they wish with regards to making an outward show of support towards the Black Lives Matter movement at the Austrian Grand Prix.

This weekend’s belated 2020 F1 season opener comes in the wake of a fierce debate regarding diversity in the sport, which emerged off the back of the global Black Lives Matters demonstrations and F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton’s vociferous views on equality.

Despite becoming the second most successful F1 driver of all time now, Hamilton remains the only black person to have started an F1 race, while only a handful are present in the lower ranks compared with a vast majority of white drivers.

 

 

This led Hamilton to call out F1 itself for not doing enough to promote equal opportunities in the sport, while he has launched his own taskforce to help black youngsters get involved in all areas of the sport.

Indeed, Lewis Hamilton is expected to take a knee during the pre-race national anthem in a nod to NFL star-turned-activist Colin Kaepernick. However, Lando Norris has speculated all drivers could get involved in the gesture as an F1-wide act of solidarity.

"If we are going to do it, we should all do it as a grid. We will do whatever we can to show we care and respect everyone. We will do what is right when the time comes."

Seidl says it is up to the drivers themselves whether they want to partake, adding McLaren is fully behind the support for diversity in the sport.

“At McLaren, we fully support the initiatives that are ongoing at the moment,” he said. “We are close with Formula 1 and in the end we leave it completely to our drivers how they feel they have [want] to be with different initiatives that are in discussion at the moment.

F1’s response to the debate has been the launch of the #WeRaceAsOne initiative, which groups together numerous minorities – race, gender, sexuality et al. – to help to promote equality across the board.

McLaren itself will visibly support this having tweaked its livery for the 2020 F1 season using rainbow patterned splashes on the halo and the sidepod.

“What I would like to say from McLaren’s point of view, racism and discrimination that has no place at McLaren.

“We value the contribution of [everyone], providing full opportunities for every single member of the team and we are running a lot of initiatives to support those minorities or groups that are currently under represented in the organisation. We want them to have the equal chance to get into our team.

We are looking into our processes and how we hire and promote people within our organisation, to ensure it does not make any difference. We strongly support the initiatives F1 is putting out there at the moment.”