F1 drivers take a knee, Red Bull Ring, 2020

Changes to F1’s pre-race End Racism recognition for 2021

2021 F1 season

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Formula 1’s pre-race End Racism recognition will look slightly different in 2021 as the sport seeks to focus attention all aspects of its ‘WeRaceAsOne’ initiative.

Last year saw the introduction of the ceremony which included all drivers wearing ‘end racism’ T-shirts and appearing in a pre-race video pledging their commitment to tackling racism.

This year, drivers will continue to congregate at the front of the grid prior to the race on a ‘WeRaceAsOne’ banner. The rainbow logo used previously will no longer feature.

Last year a majority of drivers chose to ‘take a knee’ at this point. Whether anyone continues to do so, or makes any other kind of gesture, remains a choice for each individual and is not required by the championship.

Formula 1 is keen to focus attention on the full breadth of the ‘WeRaceAsOne’ initiative, including equality and diversity, but also other social issues including sustainability and community.

“The whole of Formula 1 is united in its support for ‘WeRaceAsOne’ and the drivers will all show their own support for the initiative ahead of the grand prix,” said an F1 spokesperson. “The drivers will be free to show their commitment in their own way before the race and there will be no requirement for them to make a specific gesture.

“The important thing is all of them being together in full support of our initiatives on sustainability, diversity and inclusion, and community.”

New F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali discussed the changes to the pre-race recognition with drivers and teams in Bahrain.

World champion Lewis Hamilton, a passionate advocate of improving diversity in Formula 1, said earlier this year he wants a greater focus on action over gestures on the matter of equality and tackling racism.

“I don’t think it’s the most important thing that everyone does and takes the knee,” he said. “I think it’s more the action that we take in the background.

“What’s really important is that as things pass and things die down, it’s important to continue. It continues to be an issue that that affects my day-to-day life and so many people out there.

“It’s really important just to continue having that conversation, going back to that accountability thing, really continuing to hold uncomfortable conversations with people. Because change is possible and change is needed.

“So we’ll see how we can collectively work together to make sure we’re leading more in this sport and not necessarily having to be taking a knee.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 31 comments on “Changes to F1’s pre-race End Racism recognition for 2021”

    1. “Go to bathroom” moment. :-D

      1. Ziggo and rtl television didnt even broadcast it. It was the few minutes they used for tabletalk in the studio or commercials

    2. Sergey Martyn
      23rd March 2021, 18:48

      What a hogwash…

    3. I already picture Mazepin taking a knee.

    4. I see the negative comments have started already, but I for one applaud the WeRaceAsOne sentiment and campaign. I hope to see and read about some concrete actions being taken too, rather than just ceremonies. And I’d welcome RaceFans reporting on that. Thanks.

      Reply moderated
      1. @Mal Ross

        I don’t have an issue with the overt sentiment, but more with the covert sentiment.

        It rankles when I see people loudly proclaim that we should speak out against racism, we should be inclusive, etc; but then I see these same people excusing racism against groups they dislike, exclude those with whom they disagree, and worse, try to silence criticisms of this behavior.

        Furthermore, the concrete actions are often what I consider to be racism/sexism/etc, like picking people for their skin color, gender, etc.

        1. I wish we could all simply denounce racism, and and least try to live up to that.
          Challenging other individuals ulterior motives can take your focus away from your own actions.

          1. @coldfly

            There is a fundamental difference of opinion about what constitutes a less racist society, though. For some, it is treating people as individuals. For others, it is treating people as people of their race, gender, etc.

            These two visions are fundamentally incompatible and arguably, the latter is internally inconsistent.

            1. @aapje Summed up nicely, at least for my opinion. Identity politics is responsible for much that is negative in our societies

            2. Great comment Aapje. Agree. I also never saw it stated that the two are incompatible, but I think you are right.

            3. You seem to have misunderstood my comment, @Aapje, or at least you are doing exactly the opposite of what I was suggesting.
              I urged everybody to focus on denouncing racism and live up to that themselves.
              Instead you continue to argue that others act inconsistently (rather than focusing on your own words and actions) and ‘play’ with the definition of racism (note that I talk about ‘racism’ not about ‘racist society’, but that might be too subtle for many).

              There is little discussion about what ‘racism’ is; without looking it up it is something like: ‘(unfairly) differentiating between people based on their race’. (Let’s not dwell now on the need of including the first word).
              If we all agree with that, and actively live up to that, then the world will slowly become a better place.

            4. Thank you for that moment @coldfly. Well said.

              I agree that the world is better for it if all of us try to avoid letting our biases define how we act towards others and call out racism when we encounter it.

            5. @coldfly sums it up very well.
              As I’ve said before, programmes that encourage women into engineering are not ‘sexist’ either.
              ‘Fairly’ is the operative word here as you say.

      2. But they don’t race as one. It sounds like a superficial sentiment designed to bring more people to F1. Which would be made easier by cutting costs and demanding less money from track owners so they can drop prices and make it more affordable. F1 is still a wealthy person’s game. They may as well say “You don’t have to be rich to have fun.”

        Bottom line: everything is political. Especially now.

        Replacing ‘End Racism’ with ‘End Greed’ would be a lot more productive.

    5. “The important thing is all of them being together in full support of our initiatives on sustainability, diversity and inclusion, and community.”

      With F1 promoting and legitimizing Saudi Arabia and other oppressive regimes, this is extremely provoking hypocrisy and the cheapest form of virtue signaling.

      It also shows how they view the fans. I know motor sport fans doesn’t have a good reputation, but this is basically saying they are dumbasses who they don’t expect will be able to see past the fakery and falsehoods.

      1. I agree. “WeRaceAsOne” —— Unless it costs us races and revenue.

      2. You might want to look up the definition of ‘whataboutism’.

        1. Ah, the inevitable ‘whataboutism’ controlling technique meant to stifle any comparative argument. As if pointing out extreme hypocrisy is not allowed because there is a word called ‘whataboutism’. A logical fallacy and simple propaganda construct.

          Reply moderated
          1. You still don’t understand it @balue. It’s not about stifling anything, merely sticking to a discussion topic and not dragging other things into it (be it your mother in law, kitchen sink, or an oppressive regime).

            I always thought you were smart enough (even though I oftentimes do not agree with your PoV) to discuss a topic on its merits rather than having to go for diversion techniques.

            1. @coldfly Bless. As if your concern was the comment section here not keeping strictly to topic (which you of course would never do, and always chastise others for..), but for example doing ‘horrible’ comparisons or pointing out inconsistencies or blatant hypocrisy in arguments by comparing to other similar things, even if it’s an basic necessity in the revelation of a hypocrisy.

              Hypocrisy like for example you criticizing others for ‘diversion techniques’..

    6. So they’re just going to keep kneeling & pandering for the rest of their careers!?

      What a strange bunch of people.

      1. Why not? They stand every race and have to pretend to respect the countries anthem.

    7. I’m comfortable with the ceremony and thought the video that they included in the broadcast (and I assume the track) was reasonably well done in the context of what they wanted to say.

      However I get a bit annoyed with the “take a knee” thing as it’s contextually incorrect. The whole point of Kapernick taking a knee when he did was that he knelt DURING the playing of the USA National Anthem – something that everyone is expected to stand for. He was making his point, as have others in years past by refusing to stand (and in his case going further and kneeling) for a countries national anthem, not just randomly kneeling at some point prior to the game.

      His point was made because of his actions during the anthem – at any other time, those same actions would have been entirely unnoticed. To be honest – if anyone in F1 wanted “taking a knee” to have a real impact, then it should be during the host countries anthem – again otherwise it’s just not saying “I don’t believe you are doing enough” for your citizens.

      I’m in no way saying I don’t support “we race as one”, all I’m saying is I just find the whole aspect of taking a knee a bit hollow because it’s a shallow copy of one persons brave act.

      1. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
        24th March 2021, 1:27

        I rather prefer teams/sports/originations do it separate to any and all anthems especially since they are guest’s. I say this, because I think standing (at attention sort of speak) for anthems is for out of respect of the country, history, culture, and the people that live there. Over shadowing anthems with messaging, is disrespectful, even if its for good causes. Personally, I think these initiatives should be stand alone as what F1 is seeking to do and has done previously. People feel strongly about anthems / flags and ultimately will just send the wrong message to those folks (see the Kap situation). Show respect and you’ll receive respect.

        I agree, that taking a knee is a bit weird and hollow as you say. Its symbolism at best (today, not when Kap did it) and has no additional benefit to said cause. With that said, I agree with the general message behind the importance to treating people equally and fairly no matter what “group” they belong to. My only issue is how most discussions tend to go on with this topic. More specifically where folks are calling on equal outcome rather than equal opportunity (I see those two things very differently).

        1. I definitely don’t disagree. Yes it should be done separate to the anthem but all I’m saying is the “taking a knee” was done deliberately during an anthem – any other time, like you say is just hollow symbolism, so as far as I’m concerned it shouldn’t be done.

          I prefer that they have their own separate ceremony, as they’ve planned. It doesn’t need kneeling to be valid.

        2. @flyingferrarim @dbradock The gesture was hijacked by the BLM movement which is what it stands for now. That’s why half the drivers won’t do it.

          How ironic isn’t it that the message is ‘as one’ and then the drivers are split on this.

          I personally find the whole thing from standing to attention with hats off for the national anthem to this kneeling, not in keeping with the image of the independent and proud F1 drivers. It’s practically demeaning. As if they can be ordered about like good little boys. The whole thing should stop.

    8. So instead of “end racism” and a widely recognised rainbow flag the ceremony will only feature “WeRaceAsOne” ?
      I guess they want to simplify and push their own slogan, but the cynical me feels like they want to trivialise the ceremony to adapt to “new markets”.

      1. To be honest, I also see removing rainbow as a part of the Saudi deal. Aramco already was a title sponsor and now there will be even more money. So far it’s the only and very demonstrative one “action over gestures” they’ve done.

        1. How ironic isn’t that

    9. A decent compromise. Political statements aren’t allowed by the governing body in the first place. This is skirting the rules while last year was full on political virtue signalling.

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