Mercedes has switched its trademark silver to a predominantly black livery for the 2020 Formula 1 season in what it says is part of an anti-discrimination campaign.
Its W11 race cars will also feature the message ‘End Racism’, while F1’s recently launched ‘#WeRaceAsOne’ campaign will be publicised on the mirrors.
The change follows the spread from the United States to other countries of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement, about which Lewis Hamilton has been vocal in recent weeks.
The Mercedes-AMG Formula One Team has also committed to establishing a ‘Diversity and Inclusion’ programme which will include analysis of recruitment and initiatives designed to boost participation of people from under-represented demographics in F1.
“Racism and discrimination have no place in our society, our sport or our team: this is a core belief at Mercedes,” said Team Principal Toto Wolff.
“But having the right beliefs and the right mindset isn’t enough if we remain silent.
“We wish to use our voice and our global platform to speak up for respect and equality, and the Silver Arrow will race in black for the entire 2020 season to show our commitment to greater diversity within our team and our sport.
“We will not shy away from our weaknesses in this area, nor from the progress we must still make; our livery is our public pledge to take positive action.
“We intend to find and attract the very best talents from the broadest possible range of backgrounds, and to create credible pathways for them to reach our sport, in order to build a stronger and more diverse team in the future.
“I would also like to use this opportunity to thank our parent company Mercedes-Benz and our family of team partners who have supported and encouraged this initiative.”
Hamilton has been specifically identified by the team as a key figure in its campaign, and the six-time world champion recently established an eponymous commission which aims to increase study of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) subjects by Black people.
Both he and Valtteri Bottas will wear black racesuits this season.
“I have personally experienced racism in my life and seen my family and friends experience racism, and I am speaking from the heart when I appeal for change,” said Hamilton.
“When I spoke to Toto about my hopes for what we could achieve as a team, I said it was so important that we stand united.
“I would like to say a huge thank you to Toto and the Mercedes Board for taking the time to listen, to talk, and to really understand my experiences and passion, and for making this important statement that we are willing to change and improve as a business.
“We want to build a legacy that goes beyond sport, and if we can be the leaders and can start building more diversity within our own business, it will send such a strong message and give others the confidence to begin a dialogue about how they can implement change.”
Bottas added, “Formula 1 is a world that is defined by performance, but it still contains many barriers for people who come from backgrounds that haven’t traditionally been part of the sport.
“We know that our teams are stronger when they are more representative of the society we are part of, and it is important for us to be united and show our commitment to change.
“Racism and discrimination have no place in our sport or in our society and I am proud to stand with the team, with Lewis and with Mercedes-Benz in making this important statement.”
Mercedes’ move comes after F1 established a new fund designed to promote the involvement of “under-represented groups” in the championship, financed initially by a $1 million personal donation from CEO Chase Carey.
The new livery will be driven on-track when practice for the Austrian Grand Prix kicks off this Friday at 19:00 AEST.