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F1

How Hamilton and Vettel have helped fight crucial battle: 'Not just slapping on rainbows'

Racing Pride has worked hard to establish itself as the leading community to fight for inclusion across motorsport. World Champions Hamilton and Vettel have been crucial, as well as a host of other famous profiles across the F1 grid as founder Richard Morris told RacingNews365.

Hamilton Qatar 2021 rainbow helmet
Interview
To news overview © XPBimages

F1 has become a leading platform for motorsport to tackle societal and environmental issues in recent years.

Leading the charge has been Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, the Briton and now-retired German putting their World Championship pedigrees behind a number of initiatives aimed at creating more inclusion both in motorsport and in general society.

One organisation that has been growing in stature over recent years is Racing Pride: founded by racing driver Richard Morris and now bolstered by a number of high-profile ambassadors.

Racing Pride has enjoyed partnerships with over half the F1 grid and speaking exclusively to RacingNews365.com, Morris has highlighted the importance of allyship in spreading the message to create a safe motorsport world.

Red Bull success a boost

"Racing Pride has come a huge distance since we started it out," said Morris.

"It is an idea that came from an Instagram chat I was having in 2018 having just posted for the first time about being LGBTQ+ in motorsport.

"At that point, conversations weren't really happening about that - no Formula 1 team had said anything about Pride LGBTQ+ inclusion, national governing bodies weren't really talking about it and it just wasn't in the landscape.

"We spent quite some time putting it together and it was brilliant to launch with support from the media and so on in mid-2019, but in that point in time, whilst we had some fantastic role models from the British motorsport community in different roles, it was very much grassroots, with aspirations to reach a bigger platform and to essentially be able to spread visibility through the highest levels of the sport.

"We are getting to a point now where we are able to achieve that. The growth has been incredible since Aston Martin became the first F1 team to partner with us in 2021. It took a long time to prepare the ground for a partnership like that but we have seen F1 picking up on it now, with a number of other teams coming to us: our partnerships with Alpine and Red Bull Racing.

"We have worked with six of the 10 teams on the grid in various capacities, more partnerships are coming up and it is really starting to spread."

Having a partnership is one thing but for a linked brand to find success to the levels Red Bull did last season was a major boost for Racing Pride, with Morris praising the work done by the Milton Keynes-based outfit.

"It's fantastic, it was obviously huge for Red Bull to partner with us," he added.

"One thing it really does is show we are not in any way diluting the sport... sometimes we have comments saying 'why don't you focus on designing the car and not all this nonsense,' yet the World Champion team which has absolutely dominated F1 thinks this is an important thing to do.

"By the way, they are not just saying 'we support this', we are going in and doing detailed workshops with their team and they are really taking the time to look at policy to look at how they can be better because they believe, rightly, that it is part of performing to have everyone in your team feeling truly able to be themselves, therefore being productive, be happy, able to share their views and be heard and move the team forward.

"It also helps to reach talent. A lot of people are LGBTQ+ and if you exclude this community from coming in, you miss out on this talent."

			© FIA Pool Image for Editorial Use
	© FIA Pool Image for Editorial Use

Vettel, Hamilton allyship "hugely powerful"

Whilst Racing Pride's partnership has helped to spread the message of inclusivity and equality, Hamilton and Vettel have opted to take a stand on their own terms.

Mercedes driver Hamilton has regularly used a crash helmet design incorporating a rainbow in countries on the F1 calendar where the LGBTQ+ community faces extreme difficulties - winning in Qatar in 2021 adorning the helmet.

Vettel, meanwhile, opted to wear a 'Same Love' rainbow t-shirt during the pre-race ceremony in Hungary the same year in the midst of extremist legislation against the LGBTQ+ community being passed in the Eastern European country.

On the importance of these displays of allyship, Morris explained: "It is massive for a number of reasons, particularly with those two drivers.

"A really important thing is that yes, they are doing stuff extremely visibly, but it is also completely authentic, it is something they really care about.

"Where those drivers have not just said 'how can I make a nod to this, people are talking about it and I need to be seen to care' but they have actually used their own initiative to move the conversation further.

"Sebastian Vettel's 'Same Love' t-shirt at the Hungarian Grand Prix came shortly after we had announced the partnership with Aston Martin and we had been working with them for some time prior to that being made public - it was almost as though Seb was like 'great, I can talk about this with the team' - he decided he wanted to that in such a visible way, no one forced him to do that.

"That was really powerful and speaks to our community at that high level in the sport actually genuinely really cares.

"The same with Lewis, he decided to go to countries where the LGBTQ+ community is actively persecuted and not say 'I am taking the light away from you', but it was more 'I am going to show I support you, I am in a position to be able to that' because he is an ally, he has a huge platform.

"That is hugely powerful, it touches fans deeply and really makes people want to be a part of this sport. But it also has that role as heroes of the sport, who are looked up to by so many people, who perhaps aren't a part of the LGBTQ+ community, they'll say 'if my hero is saying this, maybe I should think about showing my support too'."

We are not just slapping rainbows on things and then everything is fine.

- Richard Morris - Racing Pride Founder

Whilst Morris has been leading Racing Pride to bigger and better things, there has also been success on track: winning the European Sports Prototype Cup with Revolution.

This has been of personal importance: "It has been a huge motivation to be able to develop Racing Pride alongside my racing.

"It gives an extra meaning to my racing, it makes me proud of what I am doing in motorsport, it frees my mind from the times when I was trying to hide anything to do with Pride from my career.

"It is beautiful going around different countries and bring together Racing Pride members who are there because they feel a connection to what we stand for.

"I went to race at Zandvoort - it is not in the UK, it is not where I am from and people came to see me. Dutch people who wanted to be there, actually not because of me but because they believe in Racing Pride."

So what next for Racing Pride? How does the leadership group take that next step in its mission?

"It is really important that this isn't diluted to something that feels... we are not just slapping rainbows on things and then everything is fine," insisted Morris.

"We are not in that position yet, there is still change that needs to happen.

"A massive example recently of changing things is the Trans Inclusion Policy which we worked on with MotorsportUK which said that anyone racing in any motorsport series governed by them will be able to self-identify their gender, the name on their license and to access the initiatives and support that apply to them.

"I want to see more of these steps that make sure our sport is safe and welcoming for the LGBTQ+ community and to then talk about those achievements in a way that is authentic.

"It is fantastic to have this strong platform we have in F1 now. We want to build that up and work with all of the teams and we want to be expanding this message well beyond F1, working with all forms of motorsport.

"We want to keep the community together, make the top of motorsport accessible whilst retaining our authentic community of people who are involved at all levels of the sport and in all roles."

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