Daniel Ricciardo says the number of people lending their voice to support anti-racism movements within motorsport is driving real change.
Lewis Hamilton criticized a lack of support from within Formula 1 when the Black Lives Matter movement – being used as a term to encompass the global desire to eradicate racism – gathered momentum immediately following the death of George Floyd, but since then a number of drivers and teams have shown solidarity. On Monday, F1 announced its own #WeRaceAsOne initiative and vowed to make a strong stand at the first race in Austria, and Ricciardo believes the more people within the sport speak up, the more it will encourage others to educate themselves.
“I’ve certainly learned a lot the last few weeks, probably close to a month now,” Ricciardo told Sky Sports. ”I’ve been reading, I’ve been watching, and it’s certainly opened my eyes.
“I’ve learned that just because you might not be, or consider yourself, a racist or a person of conflict, that’s not enough. You have to speak up, you have to educate yourself and others around you. Because what I’ve understood is being silent is kind of part of the problem really.
“I’ve watched quite a few videos, there’s been so much circulating on Twitter, on Instagram. I felt… I don’t know if it’s guilty or, how could I be so naive to everything that’s been going on? It’s not only the last few weeks, it’s been months, it’s been years.
“It is good that finally I think more of the world is getting exposed to it, people are getting behind it, and also to understand that it’s OK to speak up, and know that you’re not going to be judged or criticized. I think because of the volume of everyone getting involved, and all racers getting involved, that’s been really powerful.”
With F1’s initiative also including the formation of a task force to improve diversity and opportunity within the sport at all levels, Ricciardo says there is genuine actions being taken to improve matters. But the Renault driver also warns against influential members of the sport falling quiet again.
“I’m really happy and glad that all of us have been exposed to it and can understand more about it,” he said. “I’m sure it breaks a lot of people’s hearts having to learn about it and watch videos. Some things are so bad that you want to turn your phone off, but I find myself watching, kind of in disbelief. But then I’m like, how could I have not known more about this? It’s good, it’s positive, and I think change is really happening.
“Probably every aspect of everything we do in life we can do better, and be better. It’s thinking about it, talking about it and then actually acting on it. I think now finally actions are being taken.
“It’s not just a phase, it’s not something we do for a week and then forget about – like we’ve done our post on social media we don’t have to worry about it anymore. It needs to continue for real change to happen. I’m glad we’re doing what we can now, it’s a start.”