Words by Tony Robertson (Twitter: @TonyRob84).
Welcome back to Overtime Online’s weekly F1 column Life In The Fast Lane.
We’re now less than a week away from the return of Formula One with excitement and anticipation building towards the first race at Austria’s Red Bull Ring.
But before we go lights out let me take you through what happened last week.
Williams reveal new livery:
Williams Racing have this week revealed a brand new car livery ahead of the seasons restart.
The new livery sports a silver, black and blue colour pattern, not too dissimilar to the Silver Arrows of Mercedes. The car also has the sponsor SOFINA as the most prominent sponsor and the Williams name on the rear wing with SOFINA on the flip side of it.
Since ROKiT parted ways with Williams earlier this year, there was scepticism that the team would even make it to the first race of the season and would instead go bust before any racing commenced.
Williams has said they are looking at potentially at selling a majority share in the team to ease the financial burden that competing in F1 brings with it. But for now they will be going into the new season with a new livery that does not boast a title sponsor.
But for all the debate the new livery gets, the true test will be seen in Austria next weekend, that test being whether Williams has produced a competitive car this year. At the very least they have done better than at the same stage of the season than last year by simply having a car ready to go for pre-season testing.
F1 CEO Chase Carey announced a brand new initiative from the F1 industry aimed at making F1 “more inclusive and diverse.”
This comes a week after the Hamilton commission and comments from the six-time World Champion which criticised the lack of diversity in the sport and called for more to be done by those in power to make the sport more accessible for people of all backgrounds and gender.
Published on Twitter on Thursday afternoon, the statement, which ran across four tweets, said: “We fully recognise that Formula 1 needs to be more inclusive and diverse.
“While we set out our strategy last year to improve the position of our sport, we need and want to do more. That is why we will establish a Task Force to listen and ensure the right initiatives are identified to increase diversity in Formula 1.
“We want to ensure we give people from all backgrounds the best chances to work in Formula 1 regardless of their gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or physical abilities.”
It’s certainly pleasing to see Formula One, a sport which is overwhelmingly dominated by white males, seeking to diversify both its racer line up and the workers behind the scenes. Given time and providing this renewed effort reaps the intended benefits, Formula One should become much more enriched as a result.
F1 condemn Ecclestone comments:
However, as with any attempt at promoting diversity and inclusivity within any sport or communal event, there is always resistance of some form.
In an interview with CNN’s Amanda Davies, when asked about the potential impact of the new Hamilton commission former F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone said: “I don’t think it’s going to do anything bad or good for Formula One.
“It will just make people think, which is more important, it’s the same for everybody. People ought to think a little bit and think: what the hell somebody’s not the same as white people and black people should think the same thing about white people.
“In lots of cases, the black people are more racist than what white people are.”
When asked to elaborate on his why he believes this, Ecclestone added: “Well things over the years that I’ve noticed. And there’s no need for it.” Ecclestone later added that he thinks people need to be educated in school because it is not easy to change attitudes on the issue.
Often ‘Black people are more racist than White people,’ says ex-F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone.
— CNN Sport (@cnnsport) June 26, 2020
F1 have since condemned his words, saying: “At a time when unity is needed to tackle racism and inequality, we completely disagree with Bernie Ecclestone’s comments that have no place in Formula 1 or society.” It also distanced itself from the 89-year-old saying that he is no longer part of the organisation in any capacity with his honorary title of Chairman Emeritus expiring in January.
Ecclestone was the CEO of F1 for 40 years, eventually selling his shares in 2017 and was instrumental in creating Formula One as it is known today.
Mercedes go black to make a stand:
Mercedes F1 announced today (29 June) that they would be using a new livery for the 2020 season, switching from a silver livery to a black one.
Introducing our new 2020 livery 🖤 A pledge to improve the diversity of our team and our sport, and a signal of the Team’s commitment to fighting racism and discrimination in all its forms. pic.twitter.com/ZYzCsFl6Mv
— Mercedes-AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) June 29, 2020
In a statement, Team Principal Toto Wolff said: “Racism and discrimination have no place in our society, our sport or our team: this is a core belief of Mercedes.
“We wish to use our voice and our global platform to speak up for respect and equality, and the Silver Arrows will race in black for the entire 2020 season to show our commitment to greater diversity within our team and our sport.”
In addition to new car liveries, both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas will race in black overalls and will have newly adapted helmets to match for the entirety of the 2020 season
Nevertheless that concludes this weeks column. You can check out last weeks column here.
Alternatively with less than a week to go before the return of Formula One you can take a look at my pre season predictions for the season here (though bare in mind this was a pre-lockdown prediction).
All the best and I’ll be back again next week.