LONDON (AFP) – Formula 1 (F1) Boss Stefano Domenicali said drivers will no longer be given the formal opportunity to take a knee before races, stressing that it is now time for “action” to increase diversity in motorsport.
Britain’s Lewis Hamilton and other drivers have knelt ahead of every race for the past two seasons in a show of solidarity against racism.
But F1 is set to pull the allocated slot from its pre-race schedule for the new season, which starts in Bahrain next month.
The sport on Tuesday announced it was extending its funding commitment to the Formula One engineering scholarship programme for under-represented groups until 2025. And it will carry on screening an anti-racism message ahead of every race.
“We needed to make sure that what we did was important to show the intention of Formula One in things that were really important for the world,” F1 President and Chief Executive Domenicali told Sky Sports.
“I think now it’s the matter of (changing) gesture to action. Now the action is the focus on the diversity of our community, and this is the first step.”
It is understood that drivers will still be allowed to kneel at another stage before the start of the race, possibly by their cars.
Domenicali’s remarks come just days after Hamilton all but confirmed he would return to the grid, ending his social media silence following last year’s controversial title decider in Abu Dhabi.
Hamilton’s F1 future had been clouded in uncertainty following Max Verstappen’s championship win but he tweeted last Saturday: “I’ve been gone, now I’m back.”
“There was a total respect on his choice to be on silent mode,” said Domenicali.
“I think he will be fully charged for the start of the season.”
He added, “Lewis has in front of him a possibility to be an eight-time world champion.
“So I’m sure he is totally focussed on these objectives because this year there will be so many new things, so many variables, that will allow this championship to be so attractive.”