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Wolff challenges other F1 teams to act beyond ‘Instagram posts’

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Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has challenged others in Formula 1 to make a “really significant” financial contribution to anti-racism causes as the team holds a charity auction to support the foundation he launched with Lewis Hamilton.

Seven-time world champion Hamilton is the only black driver in F1 history and has stepped up campaigns against racism and diversity in recent years.

He launched the Hamilton Commission with the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE), which sought to understand the reasons for BAME’s lack of representation in motorsport, then created his own foundation called Mission 44 and launched an initiative together with Mercedes called Ignite.

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On Thursday, ahead of the British Grand Prix, Mercedes and Hamilton announced the first beneficiaries of Ignite’s seed money: half a million pounds awarded to Motorsport UK and the RAE, which are aimed, respectively, to help increase female participation in the grassroots motorsports and focus on Masters. Level Motorsports Engineering Scholarships for Black Students.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship British Grand Prix Preparation Day Silverstone England

That announcement came a week after it emerged that Hamilton had been racially abused by three-time world champion Nelson Piquet in late 2021, with former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone one day criticizing Hamilton for not ” ignore”.

“I think we’re living in a time where there have been a lot of people who have said they support us over the last couple of years, but a lot of [it is] lip service, and we’re not going to do that,” Wolff said.

“We’re actually about the action. We are putting our money where our mouth is.

“So, I’m very proud. I think we need everyone to participate to do something, because we can’t do it alone.”

Hamilton has invested £20m of his own money in Mission 44, while Ignite has a multimillion-dollar fund set up by Hamilton and the Mercedes team, which grew out of his negotiations with Wolff over a new contract for 2021.

Mercedes also has its own project called Accelerate 25, which aims to increase the number of people from underrepresented groups in its F1 team.

“I think what we’ve launched, we’ve put the money where our mouth is,” Wolff said.

“We have put $6.2 million into Ignite, which Lewis personally and the team committed.

“So it’s not small. And then we have partners like IWC with an immediate reaction: ‘Okay, I’m part of this, the first thing we’re going to do is take a watch, we’re going to auction it off and this goes straight to Ignite.’

“And it sure isn’t the last thing we’ve done together on that project.

“It’s not just about talking, especially about putting up money and setting standards that hopefully others will follow.

“Because we’re in our little microcosm here, all the other teams on their little quest, but we have to do something.

“This is a global platform and we need to use it.”

Asked if other teams needed to do more of this, Wolff said: “I think so. Because each of us can make a contribution.

“We are in a sport that generates billions of dollars in revenue and hundreds of millions of revenue for each of the teams.

“The drivers are millionaires, and everyone is hiding. When we should be role models and say that we are actually doing something instead of saying ‘we are working on it, and yes, we are against discrimination and we are against racism’.

“It’s great, but you can afford it to do something that’s really meaningful.

“What we are doing here is real money. And I think hopefully we can be a trailblazer for the community at large by doing something.

“Because I am not aware, apart from the Instagram posts, [that] no one has done anything else.

Ignite will also be the beneficiary of a charity auction this weekend, in which Mercedes and its partner IWC hope to raise a six-figure sum from the sale of a rare watch.

The watch is one that IWC made in collaboration with Wolff, it is number 50 of 100 and it is the last one available. IWC has also announced an annual donation of €50,000 to Ignite.

Chris Grainger-Herr, chief executive of IWC, said the auction was not a reaction to this week’s events, calling it “timely” but the result of something “planned from the start” designed to contribute funds to causes. team diversity and inclusion.

“If we don’t actively look for that, nothing is going to change,” he said.

“Because we will all turn around and say we don’t actively discriminate, we don’t do this, we don’t do that, but ultimately if we don’t put the firepower, the funding, and the human resources behind bringing change it’s not going to happen.

“A project like that that gives visibility, but where every penny at the end goes to the charitable foundation, which hopefully makes the job of bringing about change that Lewis rightly fights for every day a little easier.”

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