Sebastian Vettel believes F1 and the FIA “let down” drivers by failing to take the lead on staging anti-racism protests at the Styrian and Hungarian Grands Prix. The fight for equality was given a clear platform on the starting grid at last month’s season-opening Austrian Grand Prix, where the We Race As One initiative was pushed.
However, demonstrations against discrimination at the two following races were rushed, with Lewis Hamilton angered by the display at the Hungaroring in particular.
Vettel came out in support of Hamilton, who pointed the finger at F1 chiefs, the FIA and Grand Prix Drivers Association (GPDA) director Romain Grosjean over the shambles which saw no time allocated in the official schedules for a protest.
Hamilton has since cleared the air with Grosjean and liaised with senior figures to organise a formal stand against racism and discrimination ahead of Sunday’s British Grand Prix.
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And Vettel has called out chiefs while revealing his hope the pre-race demonstration at Silverstone will be “better”.
“It should not be up to us drivers alone,” said Vettel. “We are not organising the races, so I think it’s not just in our interest.
“I think we’ve tried to keep sending a certain message, which we are convinced of is right. But we were, after the first race, let down by FIA and [Formula 1 management], because they didn’t really help us to organise something.
“I hope [Sunday] is better. We’ll have a bit more time as well. So we’ll see what happens.”
F1’s decision to organise a stand of solidarity against racism will see drivers congregate prior to Sunday’s British Grand Prix.
They will all wear a t-shirt emblazoned with the ‘End Racism’ slogan and they have been invited to make a gesture of support.
Hamilton has taken a knee at the first three Grands Prix of 2020, with long-time rival and friend Vettel joining him.
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Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc, Kimi Raikkonen, Carlos Sainz, Daniil Kvyat and Antonio Giovinazzi opted to stand when all 20 drivers backed the We Race As One initiative in Austria.
The demonstrations since have been ad hoc, which prompted Hamilton’s outburst in the wake of the Hungarian Grand Prix.
On Thursday, though, he praised Grosjean for changing his thinking on taking a knee following a constructive phone call.
“The fact is that when we got off the phone I knew we were united and we’re going to be working towards the same common goal,” said Hamilton. “That’s what all of us have got to do. Open up our minds. Don’t put our barriers up and be defensive.
“Acknowledging there’s an issue is sometimes the first step and then how can we work towards making it better.”
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