Lewis Hamilton Praises Mercedes' Decision to Race Black Lives Matter F1 Car

Lewis Hamilton has praised Mercedes for unveiling a new livery in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and urged Formula 1 to "seize the moment" and take a powerful stand against racism.

On Monday, the German team announced its cars will feature a special black livery for the remainder of the season, which begins this weekend in Austria, as part of an ongoing effort to improve the diversity of their own team.

It marks a significant milestone for the team, whose involvement in Formula 1 has always been characterized by the unique and instantly recognizable "Silver Arrows" color scheme.

Hamilton, who has been outspoken on racial issues following George Floyd's killing in Minneapolis on May 25, said he was hopeful the initiative will represent a watershed moment for the sport.

"It's so important that we seize this moment and use it to educate ourselves, whether you are an individual, brand or company, to make real meaningful changes when it comes to ensuring equality and inclusivity," the six-time world champion said.

"I have personally experienced racism in my life and seen my family and friends experience racism, and I am speaking from the heart when I appeal for change."

In an official statement, Mercedes explained the change in livery had been prompted by the desire to send a clear anti-racism message.

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 PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) June 29, 2020

"For 2020, we have chosen to race in an all-black base livery as a public pledge to improve the diversity of our team—and a clear statement that we stand against racism and all forms of discrimination," the team said.

Following Floyd's death last month, Hamilton was vocal in criticizing some of his colleagues who chose to "stay silent in the midst of injustice," while high-profile athletes took a stand against racial discrimination.

On Monday, the 35-year-old explained the decision to adopt the new livery had been among the different projects discussed with Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff.

"I would like to say a huge thank you to Toto and the Mercedes Board for taking the time to listen, to talk, and to really understand my experiences and passion, and for making this important statement that we are willing to change and improve as a business," Hamilton said.

"We want to build a legacy that goes beyond sport, and if we can be the leaders and can start building more diversity within our own business, it will send such a strong message and give others the confidence to begin a dialogue about how they can implement change."

Writing in The Sunday Times last week, the Briton revealed he was in the process of setting up a commission to increase diversity and boost BAME representation in Formula 1 and across motorsports as a whole.

"Winning championships is great, but I want to be remembered for my work creating a more equal society through education," he wrote, detailing he had himself faced the "stigma of racism" throughout his career.

On Friday, former Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone refuted the suggestion the sport was synonymous with racism, claiming black people were "more racist" than white people and that the sport had been "too busy" to deal with racial issues.

"I don't think anyone bothered about it before," he told CNN. "They're too busy trying to win races or find sponsors or something. Really other things that are of little if any interest. [...] In lots of cases, black people are more racist than what white people are [sic]."

Lewis Hamilton, Formula One
Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP poses for a photo in the Paddock during previews ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Australia at Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit on March 12 in Melbourne, Australia. Charles Coates/Getty