Off the track: F1 responds to criticism of handling of End Racism campaign

The 2020 Formula 1 season began with an "End Racism" gesture from the drivers in the build-up to the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix. While all 20 drivers lined up in 'End Racism' T-shirts, those who wanted to also took a knee.


However, after that race, despite drivers still wanting to acknowledge the moment, it was cut from the programme.


During the second race, the Styrian GP, the TV director cut to skydivers as the F1 drivers lined up while a week later, it was such a hurried process that some drivers weren't in attendance


Lewis Hamilton, Formula 1's only black driver, criticised the sport's handling of the process leading to Formula 1 vowing to take a more active stance.

F1 sets out time for campaign


FIA race director Michael Masi has laid out a programme for the drivers to ensure all 20 have time to gather.


18 minutes ahead of Sunday's formation lap, the PA system will alert the drivers to walk onto the track wearing the black End Racism T-shirts.


A banner with the same message will be placed across the width of the track with the drivers standing by their name cards.


A minute later, that will be broadcast on the TV world feed with the message that this is being done "in recognition of the importance of equality and equal opportunity for all".


For those drivers who wish to take a knee, the FIA has made it clear that "as a mark of respect each driver, as an individual, may choose to mark this moment with their own gesture".


The gestures of support suggested include "taking the knee"; "standing on carpet with arms crossed in front or behind them"; "standing on carpet and bow[ing] head"; "standing on carpet and pointing to the words: 'End Racism' on their T-shirts"; "standing on carpet and place their hand on the heart" or "anything else a driver may feel comfortable to do".




Masi added in his letter to the teams: "I hope the above is clear and provides some clarity and reassurance to the drivers.


"The FIA, F1 and F1 teams' communication directors will continue to manage the media expectations on how this gesture will be marked, and that each driver is united in the call to end racism and will choose their own gesture at the determined time to mark this."

Hamilton, Grosjean clear air over anti-racism stance


In the build-up to the British Grand Prix, Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA) director Romain Grosjean revealed he had cleared the air with Hamilton.


The Brit wasn't impressed with the Haas driver's actions in the wake of the Hungarian GP, saying he felt Grosjean didn't believe Formula 1 should continue acknowledging the campaign, having already done so.


"He doesn't think it's important to do it," Hamilton said of Grosjean. "He's one of those people who thinks that it was done once and that's all we need to do."


The duo subsequently had a long talk with Grosjean telling Hamilton that he felt, as a director of the GPDA, that he had to speak for all the drivers, including those who did not want to take a stand.


In hindsight, though, he conceded his actions were wrong.


"I could have easily responded in the press at the time but I actually called Lewis and spent 45 minutes on the phone," Grosjean told Sky F1.


"We had a really good chat about a lot of things, but I said you mentioned my name and I don't think it was right and I explained why.


"Sebastian was pushing to keep the End Racism movement going. Which is the right thing. But I also felt — maybe it was the wrong way, maybe I shouldn't have acted that way — that as the second director, I had to listen to the seven or eight drivers that don't want to carry on. I spoke for them.


"I explained to Lewis that I just brought the argument because I need to listen to every driver and I can't just go in the direction of the other director. It's just the way we've operated."

Grosjean: 'I will probably do things differently


He added: "In hindsight maybe it was the wrong thing to do, and Lewis explained to me that you've been here for 10 years, drivers listen to you, they need to be educated and so on. I cannot really disagree with that.


"So I will probably do things differently and I also said to Lewis ideally if we can get 20 drivers wearing the overalls, kneeling at the front of the grid, that's where I'd like to go.


"I think there's education needed, it's going to take some time but I'm not a racist and I don't think you'll find anyone on earth that says I'm a racist. I just acted as a director, maybe with the wrong approach. And if so, sorry, and I'll do it differently next time.


"But it was a good call and we both apologised for what we said and what we did which was probably not the right thing in both ways."