Racism in Sport: Formula One

By Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw

The beginning of the delayed 2020 Season of Formula One (F1), due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, with the Austrian Grand Prix held on 5 July got off to a spectacular start.

Only 11 of the 20 drivers completed the course. The race was also characterised by the fact that only 14 of them joined Lewis Hamilton to take the knee in support of the campaign against racism ‘Black Lives Matter’ before the start of the race.

The cars of Hamilton and his Mercedes’ team mate, Valtteri Bottas, who won the race, Hamilton finishing fourth, were painted black in solidarity with the campaign.

According to Hamilton, six times world champion, those drivers, who chose not to take the knee, showed “lack of understanding of the issue of racism.”

However, the day before the race, the drivers issued a joint statement, through the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association, confirming that “they stand united with their teams against racism and prejudice, at the same time embracing the principles of diversity, equality and inclusion and supporting the F1 commitment to these.”

But F1 has a long way to go towards achieving these laudable aims of diversity and inclusion, with Hamilton currently being the only black driver in the sport!


Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw may be contacted by e-mail at ‘ Ian.blackshaw@orange.fr’