British GP: F1 schedules time for drivers’ anti-racism gesture

Drivers can show support for an ‘End Racism’ campaign without being rushed before the start of Sunday’s British Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton wears a shirt in support of the Black Lives Matter campaign and a protective face mask before the start of the race at the Styrian Grand Prix earlier this month.   -  REUTERS

Formula One has made sure drivers can show support for an ‘End Racism’ campaign without being rushed before the start of Sunday’s British Grand Prix.

The sport was criticised by Mercedes’ six times world champion Lewis Hamilton, the only Black driver, for failing to schedule time for a united protest at the previous race in Hungary. All the drivers made a gesture as part of the programme at the Austrian season-opener, with Hamilton taking a knee and wearing a ‘Black Lives Matter’ T-shirt, but no time was set aside at the next two races.

Race director Michael Masi issued a summary of planned procedures on Saturday to ensure all 20 drivers had time to gather.

The race is being held without spectators due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Drivers will be alerted by a beep on the PA system to walk to the front of the grid where an ‘End Racism’ banner will be placed across the track. An announcement will then state that “Formula One and the FIA will take this moment, in recognition of the importance of equality and equal opportunity for all.”

The drivers can choose their individual gesture of support.

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Hamilton and Grand Prix Drivers’ Association (GPDA) director Romain Grosjean have said they hope all drivers will be united in taking a knee by the end of the season. The gesture will conclude after about 30 seconds with a further announcement saying “Thank you for this statement of support to end racism in the world” before the national anthem is played.

There will also be a minute’s applause on the grid and around the circuit for Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) and a flyover by a World War Two Spitfire fighter plane.

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