Mercedes to race in all black cars for Formula One season

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Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain steers his car during the third free practice at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Kamran Jebreili/AP)

BRACKLEY, England — Mercedes announced Monday that it will race in all-black cars for the 2020 Formula One season as it pledges to fight racism and improve the diversity of its team.

Six-time F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton and teammate Valtteri Bottas will also race in black overalls for the season, which starts Sunday in Austria after a long delay caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

"The Black Lives Matter movement has shone a searching light on how much we need new measures and actions in the fight against racism and all forms of discrimination," Mercedes announced in its colour switch from silver.

Hamilton, who is the only Black world champion in F1, has spoken widely about racism following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month. He plans to create a commission to increase diversity in motorsport.

"It is so important that we seize this moment and use it to educate ourselves whether you are an individual, brand or company to make real meaningful changes when it comes to ensuring equality and inclusivity," Hamilton said in the announcement Monday.

Hamilton said he had spoken to Mercedes F1 team principal Toto Wolff about standing united.

"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," Hamilton said.

Mercedes said Monday that just 3% of its workforce identify as belonging to minority ethnic groups, and that only 12% of its employees are women.

"We will not shy away from our weakness in this area, nor from the progress we must still make; our livery is our public pledge to take positive action," Wolff said.

"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," Wolff added.

The season will finally get underway with back-to-back races at the Austrian Grand Prix as part of an eight-race European swing. The Red Bull Ring in Spielberg will host races on July 5 and 12.

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