Formula 1 slammed following controversial cut during racism protest
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Lewis Hamilton knelt proudly at the forefront wearing a T-shirt with Black Lives Matter written across his chest.
Most of the other drivers were on their knees beside him, although a handful again chose to stand. All wore matching black T-shirts that said: “End racism.”
It was another powerful moment for Formula One, but if you were watching the world feed distributed by the sport you would have instead seen this:
In a decision that is causing an uproar, Formula One cut away from a pre-race racism protest by its drivers to show some sky divers flying through the air.
“To see the live feed from the F1 grid cut away from showing any drivers taking/not taking a knee is not one bit helpful,” motoring journalist Dave Humphreys tweeted. “Disappointing no matter how much Red Bull is paying in sponsorship.”
As debate again swirled about the drivers taking different stances, ITV2 presenter Melissa Nathoo also took aim at the coverage.
“I do think the sport should show a united front, but kneeling or not is the decision of the drivers. However, cutting away at that moment was poor form and completely negates the message of the movement,” she wrote.
Hamilton provided another iconic moment after winning the race, delivering a Black Power salute on the podium.
But the conversation continued around the sport’s lack of unity.
Sorry @F1 cutting away so we don’t see those drivers not taking the knee with @LewisHamilton is disgusting. Do you really mean #WeRaceAsOne #BlackLivesMatter #EndRacism ? Seems like a hollow gesture right now. Mixed messages 👎🏽 @SkySportsF1 at least highlighting that. 👏🏼 pic.twitter.com/EckZfFYwW6— Nathan Amzi (@theamzi) July 12, 2020
Sky Sports’ F1 host Simon Lazenby took a strong stance as some drivers chose to stand and some to kneel for the second race in two weeks.
“You’ve got to ask the question would it have been in the best interests in the image of this sport to get it together this week. That’s not a judgment, it’s for you to decide at home,” Lazenby said.
“The images still don’t seem to fit the message in this the most global of sports. If NASCAR, football and cricket can get it right, why can’t Formula One. That’s the question. From where I’m standing here, we have seen some taking an knee and some not, it’s just a mixed message.”
Former world champion Jenson Button added: “I agree, it doesn’t look so good with some standing and some kneeling but the important thing to me is what they have to say about ending racism, they all agree. I think we as Formula One have to be proactive in pushing forward and ending racism and we race as one. It can’t go quiet, we need to mention it every race, we need to not only be mentioning it, we need to be proactive in making change. I still don’t know how we go about that to help diversity in our sport as well. It’s something we all need to sit down and discuss and make change.”
@F1 cutting away from drivers kneeling to show this Red Bull stunt on its TV coverage... and then doubling down with this tweet.— Brady Haran (@BradyHaran) July 12, 2020
Assuming a sack of 💰 involved here?!
Mealy mouthed apology being drafted as we speak. https://t.co/miDd0j70yn
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said he and the team knelt but when asked after the race if they were sending mixed messages, he said we need to be “non-judgemental”.
“None of the drivers, even the ones who are standing, are racist, we need to respect everybody’s view,” he said. “I think where we come from is that being not a racist but staying silent is not enough but I don’t want to judge what people do because he might not know, he might not kneel but he might do some good stuff in the background.
“It’s not a one weekend PR stunt we haven’t painted the car black for one weekend. Some guys said ‘we knelt last week’ but this is not over. This is just the beginning and it’s against racism it’s for more equality, more gender diversification and just continuing the momentum of that and that doesn’t stop with one weekend.”