The Mercedes Formula 1 team won the constructors’ title for the eighth time last year in its second year of running a black livery in support of Lewis Hamilton’s anti-racism campaign. This year, it’s going back to being the Silver Arrows—but without dropping the diversity drive.
The constructor first got the title Silver Arrows in the 1930s when silver was synonymous with German racing cars. Allegedly, the origin was as a weight-saving scheme by not painting the bare metal of early cars. But since modern F1 cars are primarily made of carbon fiber, it’s very much a choice in 2022.
As part of the presentation of its 2022 car, with drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, Mercedes included its junior academy members—which, first time this year, includes a girl: 11-year-old Luna Fluxa. Hamilton said, “It’s amazing to see that the sport is now opening up. Apart from perhaps Susie [Wolff, whom Hamilton competed with in karting], we’ve not really seen many young girls come through. So we need to make sure that we are providing a pathway for that.
“But it’s on a much, much bigger scale,” Hamilton continued. “The work that we’re doing with Ignite Mercedes and Mission 44—really working on getting kids into STEM subjects, working with Formula 1 and with Stefano [Domenicali, CEO of F1] to really make sure that we’re including all the teams and take them on the journey to making this place more representative and looking like more like the outside world—is key. And this is just one of those key pieces of the puzzle.”
Mercedes originally changed its livery to black in support of Lewis Hamilton after the seven-time world champion started campaigning against racism during the 2020 lockdown in support of Black Lives Matter. The only Black F1 driver, Hamilton went on to found the Hamilton Commission to examine racial exclusion in STEM subjects and specifically motorsport with an initial report that exposed damning levels of uninhibited racism in F1.
“The black livery was a clear intent and a clear demonstration of our mission to become a more diverse and inclusive team,” said Toto Wolff. “It has become part of our DNA, but the silver color of the Silver Arrows is as much our DNA, it’s our history. As a team, we have grown from the Silver Arrows to slowly becoming a more diverse and inclusive team and therefore our colors going forward will be silver and black.”
The team also launched a program called Accelerate 25 to improve diversity in its own workforce and recently released results from 2021. It discovered that 38 percent of new starters at Brackley came from under-represented groups. Under-represented groups (as reported) doubled from three percent to six percent of the workforce and women increased from 12 percent to 14 percent of employees. In a global sport like F1, it goes without saying that there’s no way on earth the best employees all come from a narrow demographic profile, so it’s extremely welcome to see teams looking for the genuinely most talented, not the most stereotypically conforming people.
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