(GMM) Formula 1 drivers will be “free” to kneel on the grid before grands prix in 2021, a spokesman for the sport says.
However, it is believed the ‘End Racism’ t-shirts will no longer appear – a move that has the full backing of former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone.
“If I’d have still been around there wouldn’t have been anyone wearing t-shirts on the podium, that’s for sure,” the 90-year-old told the Telegraph newspaper.
Ecclestone said he would also have disallowed the kneeling, which was an initiative started in Formula 1 by seven time world champion Lewis Hamilton.
Ecclestone said Hamilton and F1 need to be careful to not become a political “tool”.
“I’ve said to his father ‘Lewis needs to be careful’,” he said. “Because he’s being used by the people who are supporting this Black Lives Matter and they are taking a lot of money from it. And nobody knows where it goes.”
It is believed new F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali has taken advice from Ecclestone since taking over from Chase Carey, including the dilution of the anti-racist messaging.
“The whole of Formula 1 is united in its support for ‘WeRaceAsOne’ and the drivers will all show their own support for the initiative ahead of the grand prix,” a Formula 1 spokesman said.
“The drivers will be free to show their commitment in their own way before the race and there will be no requirement for them to make a specific gesture.”