Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff may well have ignited a sensitive topic with star driver Lewis Hamilton after claiming there is no racism in Formula 1.
Racism and discrimination has been widely spoken about both in F1 and the world outside it for a number of years.
this intensified after 2020, when George Floyd was murdered by a police officer is what was widely noted to be a racist attack.
F1 reacted swiftly to this news and started a “We Race As One” campaign soon after, which saw drivers wear t-shirts sporting anti-racism messages at the start of every Grand Prix.
Apart from this, many took a knee before every race to show their solidarity.
However, to claim that racism doesn’t exist in the sport is far-fetched.
Recently, a video showing Nelson Piquet racially abuse Hamilton surfaced where the former Brazilian champion referred to Hamilton using a derogatory term.
Former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone defended Piquet, while also praising Russian president Vladimir Putin in a rather strange interview.
At the time, Wolff criticised both of them and said “one is 80 or whatever and the one is 105”.
He said it will make people think twice before using such language in the future.
For simpletons, it might’ve been enough to convince them that it was just a generational thing and that such prejudices no longer existed in F1.
However, Red Bull reserve driver Juri Vips, who at 22 very much epitomises being part of the modern generation, was also dropped from his team after using a racist term on livestream.
Racism has caught the attention of stewards at a couple of racing events even in the current F1 campaign, where people have been forced to exit the stands after using racially-abusive language.
Did Wolff say something racist?
Hamilton has been heavily involved in trying to fight for equal representation in Formula 1 and is currently the only driver of colour in the sport.
For Toto Wolff, though, he has not been able to see any glimpse of racism around him.
“I don’t see any racism in the current state of Formula 1, I could call some of my colleagues many names, but not racist,” he said.
When Wolff was asked why Hamilton chooses to bring the subject up if it doesn’t exist in the sport, the Austrian gave a strange response by saying it is up to the British driver to eradicate racism from the source.
“He can put the finger where it hurt,” added Wolff.
For Wolff to go against his driver on what would be a sensitive topic to most, let alone someone who openly propagates equality, is surely a bit of a stretch.
It undoubtedly sparked a trail of comments on social media platform Twitter, with users suggesting a rift between Hamilton and Wolff being a direct result of such comments.
“I don’t see any racism in the current state of Formula 1” – Toto Wolff, a white man, and the team principal of the F1 team that is home to the only black driver in the sport which has, mind you, come forward talking about and fighting the racism there is in the sport. 😁— deni (@fiagirly) August 16, 2022
“Hmm. Directly contradicting his star driver on a very sensitive topic for said driver. Trouble in paradise perhaps?” one user said.
Wolff’s position is governed by empathy rather than insight. He empathises w/ Lewis’ experience when LH has seen fit to share. He listens to Suzie’s anecdotal evidence, but to this day, cannot connect the systems and process that enable people and their discriminatory behaviour.— Late Brakers (@LateBrakers) August 17, 2022
There were some who latched on to the fact that Wolff was purely a “PR merchant”, while others simply pointed to the fact that they had now lost respect for Wolff.