Promoting Social Inclusion Through Motorsport: Formula 1 launches “We Race As One”

“You just need to be accepted for who you are and be proud of who you are and that is what I’m trying to do.”

- Lewis Hamilton


The iconic symbol of the We Race As One campaign [Image] – Formula 1


Racism and social prejudice are now societal stigmas in our society. These are not new issues for humanity, but last year's events in Minneapolis heightened public awareness of the issue and galvanized social movements to fight for and protect the rights of the most vulnerable. Issues of such importance have found a voice in renowned personalities, particularly in the realm of sports, in the age of television and social media. In this context, and among the most popular sports, one in particular has launched a solidarity campaign to defend the rights of the most vulnerable: Formula 1.


2020 was an out-of-the-ordinary year; it focused on sensitive issues and challenges that society faces on a daily basis. As a response, on the eve of the season, Formula One created the We Race As One campaign in an effort to have a positive impact on society and the sport itself. The campaign's goal is to increase diversity and equality in sports, and stand up against discrimination and racism. The introduction of this campaign is part of a larger global plan to promote diversity in all of its forms, including gender, race, and sexual orientation. The campaign's message is to be welcoming and courteous of all individuals, regardless of their origin. Formula 1, being a global sport with fans in more than 180 countries and 21 official languages, aspires to be a pioneer in the fight against discrimination. In collaboration with non-governmental organizations, the program aims to promote social inclusion in the world of motorsport in all of its forms. To make a difference, Formula 1 links its members in order to transform lives, attitudes, and views. This initiative has gotten extensive media coverage around the world, and as a result, has sparked a lot of excitement in the motorsport community. However, it is also attracting a lot of criticism from the media, with some fans accusing the organization of having 'political correctness gone mad' and 'censorship.'


F1’s drivers walking down the grid [Image] – Formula 1


The first race of the 2020 season was held in Austria, and the drivers took a knee in solidarity and respect to the social movement of Black Lives Matter, following the first-ever gesture made by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to denounce police violence against the Afro-American community. Not only have the F1 drivers followed suit, they have also launched a grid strategy based on visual signals and emotive clothing. Among the drivers, Lewis Hamilton is undoubtedly the most vocal in support of the cause, having endured racist crimes on his skin throughout his life. Hamilton has always been aware of his tremendous platform and has expressed a desire to use that platform and his voice to raise awareness about the challenges that the world faces on a daily basis. In addition to participating in demonstrations for Black Lives Matter, t-shirts for victims of racism who rocked America in 2020, the seven-time world champion not only actively fought in the street, despite the federation's provision of penalties, but he also founded his own foundation (Mission44) to promote and defend diversity.


Drivers in a pre-race moment to focus on unified 'WeRaceAsOne' initiative [Photo] – Fi.com


Given the success of We Race As One in 2020, the FIA agreed to endow the foundation with a $1 million gift in order to broaden its scope. Working with significant international entities such as the United Nations, the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile has grown especially sensitive to issues of major social relevance that were formerly primarily tied to road safety. Through this donation, which primarily serves as an acknowledgement of the activity carried out by We Race as One, the latter has been able to broaden its scope of action, with the incorporation of broader and more ambitious outcomes. The foundation has also opted to add more sophisticated and broad-minded issues to its aims beginning this year. Three macro-areas will be of particular relevance in 2021: Community; Diversity and inclusion; Sustainability. Concerning the first issue, it is worth emphasizing the campaign geared at luring women to the field of motorsport, who are frequently met with preconceptions and discrimination of an ancient character that are today regarded undesirable. The introduction of a program relating to the growth and support of female drivers is the initiative's pride. In terms of sustainability, the project with zero CO2 emissions by 2030 should be included. A bold notion, but one that illustrates how strongly the issue of environmental sustainability is becoming increasingly recognized, especially in places where it was previously overlooked. Finally, in terms of the community, the concept of establishing links with all of the local communities with which Formula 1 will come into contact is to be commended. Indeed, if they are omitted from the list of the most famous Grand Prix, it is typically due to highly crucial areas, as well as significant economic and social disparities.


In conclusion, given the sensitivity of the issues and the commitment of the Formula One organization and the FIA to support such critical social problems, it is clear that a model like the one proposed by We Race As One is highly desirable for the entire world of sport, which is the first stage to which people look and sometimes are inspired. Today, the integration of economics, social issues, and athletics is critical for raising awareness of increasingly important and complex subjects. The platform, which was established in 2020, is undoubtedly raising awareness in the world of Motorsport, paving the way for a long, long, and consolidated route. We Race as One is an epochal transformation in the world of Formula One, adding to a series of very beneficial reforms that the FIA is making to revitalize Motorsport and give it a new and unparalleled position in the social field. For this reason, this endeavour needs to be lauded, and with the hope that the programs outlined will be followed, they will demonstrate that the world can also rise to such vital social and ethical duties.


 

References

  • Albers-Daly, T. (2020, September 23). Ending Racism in Formula 1. DriveTribe. https://drivetribe.com/p/ending-racism-in-formula-1-G_Qb2WQRT2uh-Q1qao7Qfg?iid=CoGQ21wbR_-MrcIX2KaBLA

  • Campbell, J. (2021, July 19). No room for racism in Formula 1. Voice Online. https://www.voice-online.co.uk/sport/2021/07/19/no-room-for-racism-in-formula-1/

  • F. (2020, June 22). Formula 1 launches #WeRaceAsOne initiative to help fight challenges of COVID-19 and global inequality | Formula 1®. Formula 1. https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/article.formula-1-launches-we-race-as-one-initiative.3s2AhNDApNDzrCoQDc1RY8.html

  • F. (2021, February 10). Formula 1’s #WeRaceAsOne initiative to continue in 2021 with three new areas of focus | Formula 1®. Formula 1. https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/article.formula-1s-weraceasone-initiative-to-continue-in-2021-with-three-new-areas.5MXuJzisUBuzDR1LHWk5Xk.html

  • IANS (2021, July 22). Formula 1 Community Unites in Condemning Racism Against Lewis Hamilton. TheQuint. https://www.thequint.com/sports/formula-1-community-unites-in-condemning-racism-against-lewis-hamilton

  • Reuters. (2021a, March 24). F1 drivers’ pre-race stance broadens out from “End Racism.” ESPN.Com. https://www.espn.com/f1/story/_/id/31127921/f1-drivers-pre-race-stance-broadens-end-racism

  • Reuters. (2021b, October 5). Hamilton’s Mission 44 foundation announces first initiative. https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/hamiltons-mission-44-foundation-announces-first-initiative-2021-10-04/

  • Sky Sports. (2021, July 29). Lewis Hamilton says “for the first time he did not stand alone”; after recent online racist abuse. https://www.skysports.com/f1/news/12433/12367452/lewis-hamilton-says-for-the-first-time-he-did-not-stand-alone-after-recent-online-racist-abuse


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Federica Panico

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