Formula One will no longer set time aside for drivers to take the knee ahead of races as it looks to introduce more concrete actions to combat racism, Chief Executive Stefano Domenicali told Sky Sports on Tuesday.
Formula One launched its “We Race As One” diversity, inclusion and sustainability platform in 2020, which included a pre-race moment when drivers gathered on the grid to express their support for the initiative with a gesture of their choice.
“I think it was the time to move from just a gesture recognizing something that’s really important to a plan,” Domenicali said.
“I think the gesture has been an important gesture because we need to respect everyone as always. But now is the time to move on and take some other action.”
Some drivers, most notably seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton who is a vocal advocate for human rights, ending racial inequality and environmental causes, chose to take the knee.
Others remained standing while wearing T-shirts bearing messages in support of various causes.
They all appeared in a video broadcast just before the pre-race moment of support.
The video will still be broadcast this season, a Formula One spokesperson said, and “We Race As One” branding will feature around race tracks.
Domenicali’s interview with Sky Sports took place as Formula One announced a four-year extension to its engineering scholarship program for under-represented groups until 2025.
The program, launched last year, has enabled 10 students to find placements for engineering degrees at universities in the United Kingdom and Italy.
Domenicali sounded optimistic that Hamilton would carry on racing, after the Briton broke his near two-month long silence following his controversial Abu Dhabi world title defeat with a social media post on Friday.
“I saw the last picture was a light of positivity on his face and his gesture,” said Domenicali.
“I think that is important because Lewis is an incredible asset not only for our sport but for the world.
“Lewis has in front of him a possibility to be an eight-time world champion. I think his battery will be fully charged for the start of the season,” he added.
The Formula One season begins on March 20 in Bahrain.