Norris backs Vettel, says he ‘can’t accept doing nothing’ after F1 scraps pre-race gesture

The "We Race As One" campaign was introduced following the murder of George Floyd in 2020, but it has now been scrapped.

Following the abandonment of Formula 1’s “We Race As One” campaign, Lando Norris hopes that drivers can still find ways to show solidarity before grand prix this year.

In a surprise move, Formula 1 has decided to get rid of its anti-discrimination movement ahead of the 2022 season, with CEO Stefano Domenicali suggesting that now is the time to adopt “other” anti-discrimination practices.

“The [knee] gesture was important for the ones that believed that was an important gesture, because we need to respect everyone,” he told Sky Sports.

“But now is the time to move on and take some other action. The action is the focus on the diversity of our community, and this is the first step. 

“We are committed to increasing diversity and opportunity within this incredible sport.” 

The pre-race ritual that allowed drivers to either stand or kneel to display their stance against all forms of discrimination was introduced in 2020 following the murder of George Floyd by a police officer, and Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel says that the drivers were not given a reason for the abandonment of anti-discrimination messages.

“No, they just changed,” he told media when asked whether he was forewarned about the alterations.

“I was a bit surprised. I think the issues that we’re tackling are not going to be gone within two years. And therefore I was a bit surprised. 

“I hope that as drivers, we find a way to get together and find a slot of still expressing topics that are important to us. 

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“Probably not all the drivers care, but I think there’s some that really do care. And it’ll be great to get together. But probably it was getting a bit too strong and individual for the business side of things.” 

Norris, who is entering his fourth season in F1 this year, explains that the drivers have not had much of a chance to discuss what they can now do to replace the campaign that ran in 2020 and 2021, but is adamant that they will do so in due course.

“I think it’s tricky because we’re still early in the season so it’s not something we have spoken about so much,” he said, as quoted by The Express

“But it will be something we definitely will speak about when the time comes, definitely beforehand, to make sure we are prepared and we’re making the most of the opportunities we can have to speak about whatever matter it is. 

“And there are always things we can do as drivers. There are always things that we can do separately as drivers to speak out about these kinds of things and I think more and more of us are doing that.”

The 22-year-old emphasises that taking the knee is not the only gesture that can inspire equality, and that any form of stance against inequality is important.

“What we do as a group, taking the knee or some not taking the knee, I think it doesn’t have to simply be that,” he added.

“I think there are other ways to go about those means and stand up for whatever matter it is, to inspire kids, to raise awareness for issues and different matters. 

“I think it doesn’t have to be that but I’m not too sure yet. It is something that we will speak about as drivers, something we will speak about with Formula 1 and I’m sure it is something they are thinking of, you would hope anyway, as Formula 1 with the audience we have.”

While the decision from F1’s hierarchy might seem confusing, the Briton acknowledges that there must be a reason for it, but insists that the drivers must be allowed to do something to show their solidarity.

“I’m sure that they haven’t done it for nothing, so we’ll see. We will speak about it and we’ll make sure there are things in place because I definitely still support Sebastian on the side if it’s worth doing things,” he stated.

“Whether it’s just before the race or it’s another time at the start of the weekend or inviting people to the weekends, we will wait and see. But I can’t accept doing nothing.”

Norris will partner Daniel Ricciardo again for the 2022 season, which gets underway on 20 March in Bahrain.