Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel has revealed that no reason was given as to why Formula 1 has removed its pre-race routine that allowed drivers to express their stance against discrimination.
Following the murder of George Floyd by a police officer in 2020, many sports adopted practises that enabled athletes and other personnel to take a moment to emphasise their condemnation of all acts of discrimination and hate.
In many cases, this has meant the taking of the knee – as was made famous by American football player Colin Kaepernick when he protested against police violence in 2016.
F1 drivers have been encouraged since the first race of the 2020 season to showcase their commitment to equality by participating in a televised anti-discrimination message aired ahead of every race, and by standing or kneeling on the grid before the national anthem is played.
This formed part of the “We Race As One” campaign that was launched after Floyd’s death, but this has now been scrapped entirely by F1.
Speaking this month, F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali told Sky Sports that “now is the time to move on and take some other action,” and Vettel was asked if any particular reason for the abandonment of the initiative was relayed to him.
“No, they just changed [it],” he told RacingNews365.com.
“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 [to] still [be] expressing topics that are important to us.”
While the 34-year-old concedes that not all of the drivers were entirely vested in the pre-race ritual, he insists that some are very committed to positive change, and he suggested that the business side of F1 now precludes the human messages from emitted before each race.
“Probably not all the drivers care, but I think there’s some that really do care, and it would be great to get together, but probably it was getting a bit too strong and too individual for the business side of things,” he explained.
The new season kicks off on 20 March in Bahrain, with Vettel once again lining up alongside Lance Stroll at Aston Martin.