After that Lewis Hamilton wore a black T-shirt at the Tuscan Grand Prix two weeks ago with the words “Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor” on the front and a photograph of the slain Black medical worker on the back with “Say her name”, yesterday the Formula One’s governing body set out new pre- and post-race rules.
For the British driver attire, the F1 banned the only black F1 driver from wearing campaigning T-shirts on the podium.
The Mercedes driver, a six-times world champion, has also routinely worn a Black Lives Matter T-shirt when taking a knee alongside other drivers before races in an organised and officially sanctioned anti-racism campaign.
Hamilton, who could equal Michael Schumacher’s all-time record of 91 wins in Sunday’s Russian Grand Prix in Sochi, had said this week that he expected the governing FIA to take a position. The rules require drivers to wear T-shirts with the “End Racism” message in the pre-race activity before the national anthem.
Hamilton reverted to wearing the Black Lives Matter shirt yesterday, when he also took a knee as a sign of respect for the victims of police brutality against black people.
The FIA declared that drivers may still choose their own individual action of support, but the gesture needs to be “in accordance with the fundamental principles” of the FIA statutes.
The suggested gestures explicitly in line with the F1 code of behaviour are taking a knee or standing with arms crossed or head bowed.
Also, after the race the top three drivers (who will stand on the podium) must keep their race suits done up to the neck instead of keeping it opened to the waist.
This means that any the interviews after stepping out of their cars and the podium ceremonies must be carried out with the new procedures.
Nonetheless, every driver finishing the race must also remain in team uniform only during television pen interviews.
Hamilton commented on the new F1 regulations claiming that he would not stop campaigning for racial equality and using his platform to raise awareness of issues close to his heart.
Indeed, he wore the “Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor” t-shirt as Taylor was brutally killed by police officers who burst into her apartment in Louisville, Kentucky, in March 2020.
On the other hand, the six-time Formula One World Champion admitted that the FIA had “certain limits that they feel they have to work within”.
“People do talk about sport not being a place for politics. Ultimately it’s human rights issues and in my opinion that is something we should be pushing towards,” he added.
“Lots of rules have been written for me over the years and that hasn’t stopped me.”