F1 ditches ‘take a knee’ ceremony, wants to shift from ‘gestures to actions’
Formula 1 head Stefano Domenicali says that the time has come for the sport to move on from the pre-race 'taking a knee' gesture which has been commonplace on the grid for much of the past two years.
Several drivers, multiple-time world champion Lewis Hamilton included, have been performing the gesture ahead of races since the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement was popularized following several high-profile instances of police brutality in the United States.
However, the sport has now decided to pull the pre-race time allocation to the gesture ahead of the start of the new F1 season - meaning that drivers may still take a knee before a race if they wish, but that there will be no formal ceremony for it on the official race schedule.
Formula 1, though, isn't abandoning its drive for diversity entirely. A video featuring drivers promoting anti-racism issues will be broadcast prior to each race, while Domenicali has also revealed that an F1 scholarship scheme designed to assist students from underprivileged backgrounds will be extending into 2025.
The scheme will see Formula 1 pay the tuition fees for 10 students each year from the UK and Italy to undertake engineering courses.
“We needed to make sure that what we did was important to show the intention of Formula 1 in things that were really important for the world,” Domenicali told Sky Sports.
“Now it's the matter of [changing] gesture, to action. Now the action is the focus on the diversity of our community, and this [scholarship scheme] is the first step.”
Lewis Hamilton, the only black driver in the current F1 field, has frequently used his platform within the sport to promote social justice issues, and has stated his belief in the importance in taking a knee before races in the struggle against inequality.
According to the Daily Mail, it is thought that Hamilton will likely continue to take a knee before races - most likely beside his car.
Hamilton has also previously successfully petitioned his Mercedes team to paint his car black in another anti-racism move. The team is likely to return to its original colors for the 2022 season.
There had been speculation as to Hamilton's very participation in the upcoming Formula 1 season after he appeared to withdraw from public life following his dramatic last lap loss to Max Verstappen in the final race of last season.
However the seven-time world champ ended his hiatus with an Instagram post on Saturday, saying: “I've been gone, now I'm back.”
Hamilton's retreat, though, was understandable said Domenicali.
“There was a total respect on his choice to be silent. I think his battery will be fully charged for the start of the season,” he said.
“That is important because Lewis is an incredible asset not only for our sport but for the world.
“Lewis has in front of him a possibility to be an eight-time world champion. So I'm pretty sure he is totally focused on these objectives.”