The Formula 1 drivers will discuss the growing sporting boycotts in the United States that are taking place in reaction to the shooting of Jacob Blake.
Blake was shot seven times in the back by police when trying to get into his car in Kenosha, Wisconsin on Sunday, leading to renewed protests against the use of excessive force by police. The incident comes in a year where other incidents of violence toward Black people at the hands of police have prompted an increased global drive to eradicate racism, and Blake’s shooting resulted in a number of NBA, WNBA, MLB and MLS games being called off this week after players elected to stage a boycott by way of protest.
After Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka also stated she would not play in the semi-final of an event in New York, Lewis Hamilton posted that he was proud of her actions, and Daniel Ricciardo said F1’s drivers will talk about how they might respond.
“It is heavy,” Ricciardo said. “Seeing other athletes take this sort of action, that shows to an extent what this means to everyone, and how far it is spreading. Right now it is just in America, but it has spread around the world, at least the news. It is hard to know. You keep hearing (about) these incidents, when it is going to stop? When is it enough? And it keeps seeming to happen, and happen.
“So that is why in a sporting world a lot of these athletes are taking more drastic measures, and boycotting and stuff like this. So it is getting pretty extreme, but until there is a change, you’re going to keep banging on the door until it falls down, if that is the best way to say it.
“We have to talk as a group here amongst our sport, and the drivers, and just have that conversation, and see where everyone’s head is at. It is still fresh, it is devastating, that is the thing – when is it enough?
“I am not one to read the news, but especially this now… you just shake your head in disbelief. I don’t know how it can keep going on. It still blows my mind. If there is something we can do, of course we will. Let’s try and do something, but we have to have that discussion.”
Hamilton said a boycott of an international event over an incident in the United States might not be the right approach, but believes that F1 should stand in solidarity with other major sports.
“Firstly, I think it’s incredible what many out there in the States are doing with their sports, all the way down to the people that are hosting and commentators, for example,” Hamilton said. “So many people are standing with the players and really pushing for change,” Hamilton said. “It’s a shame that’s what’s needed over there in order to get a reaction, but that is in America and I don’t know if me doing it here will particularly have any effect – we are in Belgium, we are not in the United States.
“I haven’t spoken to anyone about it, but I am so proud of everyone out there and I do stand unified with them to try and do what we can over here. I don’t know how us not doing the race… it would still go on, that’s the thing, but as I said, I’ll try and speak to Formula 1 to see what else we can do to continue to raise awareness, continue to help push.
“Naturally, as a sport I think we all need to be aligned, and we all need to support one another, even though it is a different sport. ”
GPDA director Sebastian Vettel agreed with Hamilton that the location of F1’s events means a boycott is not on the cards, but wants to ensure there is continuity in the sport’s stance against racism.
“I think the message that has been taken in the U.S. with some players boycotting or going on strike, not going out for the game and therefore the games having to be postponed… I think they are more U.S.-specific,” Vettel said. “I don’t know the complete background, but from where we are, we are happy as drivers in our actions and want to keep sending that message.
“Having said that, we know it doesn’t change things overnight and it’s only a very, very small contribution. But hopefully everybody that’s tuned in and sees it gets the point and gets the message.
“I think it’s one thing to take action in public, but more importantly, it’s how everybody is acting and confronting it once the cameras are off. That’s true for us, being in a spotlight a certain amount during a weekend, but also valid for everyone else.
“(A future boycott) is something that we would decide together. Generally we talk about stuff, we talk about things that are going on and things that are important to us. I think we’ve grown together as a group of drivers. The more experienced drivers, the young drivers, I think we share our opinions.
“I don’t think it makes much sense now to go as far as that because nothing is on the table, there is no reason to boycott a race. But I’m sure if we are unhappy, we would talk about it first and then take the actions accordingly.”