Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Mugello, 2020

No investigation over Hamilton’s Breonna Taylor T-shirt

2020 F1 season

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Lewis Hamilton is not being investigated by the FIA over the T-shirt he wore before and after Sunday’s Tuscan Grand Prix, demanding the arrest of police officers who shot Breonna Taylor.

The shirt bore the message: “Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor” on the front. It was worn by Hamilton during the pre-race ‘end racism’ observance, his post-race interview and on the podium.

It also featured a picture of Taylor with the phrase “Say her name”, referencing the movement intended to highlight black, particularly female, victims of police brutality. Taylor was shot and killed in her home in March.

Multiple reports on Monday indicated the FIA was considering whether to investigate Hamilton’s decision to wear the T-shirt. However RaceFans understands that no submission was made to the stewards concerning Hamilton’s actions and no investigation is being conducted as a result of them.

Guidelines are issued to drivers about arrangements for pre- and post-race activities, including what may and may not be worn, which will be reviewed.

Hamilton wore the T-shirt instead of the usual ‘Black Lives Matter’ design he has worn at the pre-race ‘end racism’ observance. Other drivers have worn T-shirts bearing the message ‘end racism’.

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 110 comments on “No investigation over Hamilton’s Breonna Taylor T-shirt”

    1. LOL
      As you were, then, Mr Hamilton.

      1. That’s very fortunate for the FIA.

        Having to decide if it was political was a tough one. Many have said human rights should not be a political issue, but imagine this at the Chinese GP with the Uigher muslims highlighted. They would have found out how political human rights are.

        Luckilyy they didn’t have to penalise Hamilton or worse formally “permit” the message.

    2. RaceFans understands that no submission was made to the stewards

      So FIA have still not actually said anything? Anything at all, whatsoever? This just gets more ridiculous.

      1. Whats ridiculous is that now that we know no complaint was made and there was no investigation, where did this tripe originate? Where has the motive come from? I was told by a customer at work that they seen it in a tabloid whose name i’m not repeating.


        1. It is weird isn’t it N. And why have FIA not just simply said ‘there’s no investigation mes amis’? The story is all over the media everywhere. Jean Todt is not someone who’s slightly in charge is he, how can it even be an argument going on in FIA?

          Cos meanwhile it’s making lots of people wonder where FIA stand and how sincere their anti-racism policy is. One of the big hitter teams is tweeting that it’s not a political message, it’s just growing, so why aren’t they shutting the story down with a statement? Perhaps they’re having a debate with Lewis?

      2. One rule for Lewis, and one for everyone else.

        1. Why who else was wearing that t shirt ?

        2. Disagree with you here. If rules aren’t clear and well formulated, then it’s impossible to uphold them. What the FIA is probably doing now is making a ‘technical directive’ / formalising what’s allowed pre- and postrace and what to wear, say, and such. Therefor it perfectly fine that Hamilton isn’t getting a reprimand or anything like that.

          On the topic of the message on the shirt: while it’s understandable from an emotional side that LH wore that shirt, I don’t think he has all the facts, because from what I understand the investigation is still going on. Therefor by stating that the involved police officers should be arrested (when their identities and whereabouts are known to the authorities), it surpasses the outcome of the investigation and following legal trajectory: arresting the officers is needed when they’re found guilty (which they’re not as of this time). There are judges and jury’s to decide that, not a multiple F1 champion.

          The other reason for an arrest is when the society needs to be protected of a repeat offence (which isn’t the case here).

          1. @mcbosch While it’s true that they shouldn’t act prematurely and arrest cops before conducting an investigation, there are a number of historical problems with that approach. Firstly, the police departments have often been allowed to ‘investigate’ themselves, which is obviously a clear conflict of interest. And secondly, cases like this happen frequently and if there is no public pressure then the overwhelmingly common outcome is that there are no repercussions for anyone involved, no justice, and it is quietly brushed away. So while “arrest the cops”, might be a dramatic phrase to use, it is very important to keep the issue in the public eye to keep applying pressure and ensure that some kind of justice is pursued.

            1. Don’t disagree with you there! A change to the ‘system’ is needed when there is no trust in the current one. And I get it why a single case has to be made an example, but (and I’m playing the devils advocate here) what if the involved officers aren’t guilty? Then they’re wrongfully accused (and sentenced) by someone who didn’t have all the facts, but did have a huge fanbase / reach. That’s why in my opinion it’s a dangerous trajectory to go and that’s why I understand the FIA and LM don’t want to have anything to do with it and tighten up the rules. No sane person is for racism, inequality, poverty, pollution, deforesting and so on, so those are pretty save topics for them… individual cases… not so much.

            2. @mcbosch Well to be fair, being arrested isn’t the end of the process. If the officers are arrested, they are still entitled to their day in court where they can lay out their defence and a judge/jury will decide on their guilt or innocence and appropriate sentencing if guilty. Lewis Hamilton, or anyone else who campaigns for justice, are not the ones who pass the sentence (although they may ‘wrongfully accuse’ if their opinion is not in line with the court’s ruling).

            3. @keithedin we’re getting a bit offtopic I guess and this will be my last reply. Looking forward to another discussion on another topic sometime :)

              There are several reasons why someone shouldn’t be outside prison for the trial. For example, the suspect may be dangerous to flee, dangerous for society or it may be necessary to investigate the truth and suspects might interfere with that. There are pretty strict rules to remain in custody. As long as a judge has not ruled on a case, the suspect is innocent and he/she may not be detained without reason. Being locked up while being innocent is one of the worst things for someone personal integrity, regardless if they’re entitled to their day in court. Therefor everyone should be careful to campaign for arrests while the investigation is still going on and aforementioned reasons aren’t applicable.

          2. You don’t arrest someone when they’re guilty. You arrest them when you suspect they’ve committed a crime. You put them in prison when they’re guilty.

            I think a lot of the people protesting what happened in this case would argue otherwise. The argument is that the officer(s) shot someone without justifiable cause, or in a reckless manner. If indeed that’s the case, then leaving that officer on duty while the case is being investigated them would certainly leave society at risk of the officer(s) doing it again. If you suspect someone committed a murder and have sufficient evidence to at least arrest them and hold them until the trial, you would certainly do that.

          3. @mcbosch,”arresting the officers once they are found guilty”, how ironic that the reason for the protests is the police habit of assuming guilt (by skin color or association) acting as judge,jury and executioner before arrest, or using arrest as a weapon of harassment on people they don’t like the look of. “Protect and serve”, my ass.

            1. @mcbosch Except in this case shots were fired through a closed door at the police. I’m pretty sure the police can’t see though solid objects so for all they knew it could have been a white middle aged suburban dentist who fired on them. To sure the subject of their search was for a black man but at that initial moment it could have been anyone of any colour.

              I don’t believe that the vast majority of US police are racist, but I do believe that every moment of every day they are terrified and paranoid about getting killed.

          4. Yes, it’s not a repeat offense because you can only kill her once. No arrest has been made. They showed up at the wrong house and burst in without identifying themselves in the middle of the night. Citizens have a right to defend themselves, which is what the boyfriend did. They then opened fire, killing the victim. At the very least it’s negligence. There may be some other foul play involved, but at this point, nothing has happened to the officers. This happens to Black people all too often in the USA. A cop kills and walks away scott free with no reprimand. If you’re that scared, you’re in the wrong line of work. Blacks are killed for having a tail light out on their vehicle. Meanwhile, white people can do all sorts of crazy crap and live to tell about it. Exhibit A:

        3. Why? Who did the FIA fine/ban/reprimand for wearing a similar t-shirt?

          Oh wait, you’re one of those troll things right?

    3. The Ranting Brummie
      15th September 2020, 11:07

      No quarrel with the issues Lewis is trying to raise. And nor do I disagree with giving them a platform before the start.

      But keep it off the podium.

      That should remain neutral and for sporting purposes only.

      1. Agree it’s a slippery slope to allow politics into sport. What about other drivers that may want to champion different causes on the podium. Free Tibet….. or if let’s say another driver puts on a police lives matter T-shirt etc. how can one be allowed and another not given the precedent this sets. I just want to see them race, keep the social / political issues to twitter :)

        1. That includes national anthems, visiting politicians/leaders and shows of military pageantry.

        2. Bahrain approves of this comment.

    4. So FIA decided a statement about on going investigation were not political, because if it was political, there was a precedence when Turkey GP organizer fined $5 millions in 2006.

      They should not complain if Lewis wear ‘Arrest Putin & say Alexei Navalny name’ shirt in Russia.

      1. should not complain if Lewis wear ‘Arrest Putin & say Alexei Navalny name’

        That is such utter nonsense @ruliemaulana.

        First of all, talking about Putin and/or Navalny has nothing at all to do with a fight for justice for victims of police violence. Nor with ending discrimination, highlighting how black lives matter nor fighting racism. There is no reason at all for Hamlotn to even want to wear something like that.

        And then, the slogan you mention IS clearly a political one, since both Puting and Navalny are politicians. So it would be 100% clear to anyone that this is a no go, even if common sense wouldn’t tell one to not even mention Navalny in Russia when Russian media, or even their stooges in other countries (Czech communists, for example) seem afraid even to spell out the name of “the corruption investigator” or whatever pseudonyms they come up with to avoid naming Navalny.

        1. Was there any regulation that drivers’ shirt message should only about police violence? If a statement about on going investigation were consider not political, all message should be allowed. Including ‘Ended Fossil Fuel’ or “End Trump’, even ‘End Monarchy’.

          1. The rules say things about not displaying discriminatory, or offensive or political messages

            1. Offensive to whom? FIA? You? What if someone wear Extinction Rebellion shirt?

            2. @ruliemaulana Offensive to the FIA, as it impinges on their right to determine what they can support that counts as remaining apolitical (something the FIA has to do, and has to enforce in all its activities, in order to be permitted to continue to exist under French law).

              As for Extinction Rebellion, regardless of the wider politics involved, the FIA would be incensed because they probably last heard of Extinction Rebellion when a bunch of them got arrested for breaking the COVID bubble at the British Grand Prix. They would likely see it as code for “I hate the FIA and its rules”, which would be more directly offensive to the FIA than anything Extinction Rebellion has in its formal political statements…

      2. @ruliemaulana And there you hit on the fact that F1 is never ‘apolitical’, especially when heads of state turn a GP into a photo opportunity for their government/regime. To some extent unavoidable. However I do think all global sports should have as a ‘no go’ line whether a venue discriminates against a certain section of its own population or outside populations, effectively impeding or barring certain people from attending the sports event. A rejection of universal rights is against the very idea of a global (universal) sport. That applied to South Africa under apartheid. It also applies, I think, to countries that currently discriminate (criminalize) homosexuality like the UAE and Saudi Arabia. I can’t see how a global sport can hold an event it knows some people will be unable to attend (at least as openly gay). Leaving aside other rights abuses, I’d like to see Abu Dhabi axed for now on that basis. No chance I know.

      3. @alianora-la-canta @david-br This is why I have saying that these controversy start when FIA let Lewis wearing different shirt than the other. It’s slippery slope. They should warn Lewis at the first time it happen. Saying ‘end racism’ was okay, raising awareness about another issues should not be allowed.

        F1 is clearly business oriented. Build by the riches. They need to protect their source of income no matter how shady their partners actually are. UK & US created wars to ruin millions lives included. But like other corporation, even the one that having minor makes their products on overseas sweatshop, they want to hide all their own dirty reality with meaningless gestures. The problem is FIA couldn’t control its own narrative.

        1. @ruliemaulana My point was that it’s hypocritical to try to control Hamilton’s messaging because it’s political, but allow the likes of Putin to appear prominently on race day (albeit under a different F1 regime). OK so you can say it’s down to power. But then Hamilton has and is showing his own power within the sport by making BLM such a dominant theme this season. I see that as redressing some of the dominance of those wealth patrons you’re condemning too.

          However I do think my other point about universal access to the sport is valid, and indeed is compatible with ‘end racism.’ That should be matched with ‘end homophobia’, if not in messaging, then at least in how F1 conducts its business. It must ensure equal (non-discriminatory) access for everyone at every level. Otherwise it is not a global sport and is indeed part of the problem.

          1. @david-br My point is exactly the opposite of that. Big business entity was supposed to be hypocrites. Make one meaningless point but banned other things that could disrupt its income.

            Just like NBA. Allow ‘say her name’ on the shirt but banned any athlete to actually said her name.

            No need to add any other ‘end this’ or ‘end that’. Because you can’t say ‘end homophobia’ is more pressing issues than ‘end harvesting political prisoners organ’ or something.

        2. @ruliemaulana The FIA directly referenced Black Lives Matter (the hashtag) during its promotion of #WeRaceAsOne, so any attempt to investigate someone wearing a T-shirt bearing the same words would have failed due to the FIA and Liberty implicitly allowing others to use terms they’d referenced (even if everyone knew that T-shirt was from the organisation and not simply Lewis getting the hashtag printed at his local branding shop).

      4. Lewis’ t-shirt was not exactly political.

        Your example is 100% political.

        1. Sure. Make a 49% political statement then. Print tiny disclaimer below that said it was mostly peaceful and non political.

        2. @invisiblekid Given significant dissent in the USA about how the Breonna Taylor case should be handled, the T-shirt was 100% a breach of Article 1.2 of the FIA Statutes (manifesting difference of political opinion).

    5. Well, I guess it makes sense to have a look at podium and pre race ceremonies. The end racism / for equality message deserves a more prominent place, especialy as we are going to be travelling to a place like Russia and later in the year we’ll be visiting the middle east as well.

    6. Fair play. I can completely understand a review into what can be worn on the podium though. It’s a fine balance. I want drivers to be themselves but don’t want a circus of Free Palestine flags, BLM t shirts and End Uighur Genocide face paint on the podium (all of which are fine causes to campaign for).

      1. geoffgroom44 (@)
        15th September 2020, 11:19

        +1. I am all for free speech. I am all for passionately promoting a cause that is close to the heart. But many of these ’causes’ are so nuanced and complicated that ‘sound byte scenarios’ tend to detract from them.
        Use your ‘power position’ to promote your cause,yes, but I also think it fair for F1 to review this situation to avoid the ‘circus’ effect.

        1. I disliked what Hamilton did, on this podium
          I don’t think F1 is needed to get attention for issues like this

          He can do it on his own, using social media. Hamilton has 20 million followers on Instagram alone, 6 on Twitter.
          He can even ask F1 or Mercedes to support, via social media… not during races on television, that’s meant for watching races

      2. Yes I agree. But this is a fad and will play out.

    7. I wonder how Lewis’ sponsors feel about his political t-shirt covering their logos?

      1. geoffgroom44 (@)
        15th September 2020, 11:22

        is it ‘political?’
        I thought all pols and parties in a civilised society were in favour of Law and Order and the correct application of such society protective rules. My late Father, himself a police officer for over 30 years, always had the mantra ‘nobody is above the law’.

        1. Yet, the police officers in question are under investigation. Isn’t the whole point of law and order investigating what happened and if someone is guilty? Going by proof instead of going by emotion.

          In the west the mantra is still innocent until proven guilty. It isn’t guilty until proven innocent.

          1. It said arrest them. You can arrest still right ?

            1. If they are a flight risk or pose a continuing danger to society or witnesses. Otherwise it’s up to a judge.

        2. Politics does not just relate to governments, have a look in a dictionary….

        3. @geoffgroom44 No, some politicians in the world are definitely against law and order…

      2. That was my thought when I saw it. I had no idea if there were any specific FIA or F1 rules about it, but I’m damn sure there are contractual obligations with sponsors. However if they were miffed I’m pretty sure none of them would wish to push it, partly because of the vast amount of publicity they already get by being associated with Hamilton/Mercedes (particularly when he equals/surpasses Schumacher in the next few races ) and because picking a fight with Hamilton over him trying to promote racial equality and an end to institutional racism and police brutality rather than flogging more of their products is something that isn’t going to look good once the journos jump on it. Ergo I expect any obligations to display sponsors will be overlooked.

      3. I briefly wondered this too, but then realised that it would be PR suicide for any of these brands to complain publicly in this political climate. One-way ticket to cancel-town for you.

        1. @hollidog Especially since Mercedes is openly supportive of Lewis’ conduct (up to, including and probably beyond the T-shirt) and would be first in line to do the cancelling…

    8. I’m surprised he’s even allowed to wear that BLM shirt though.

      1. @f1osaurus Given the FIA primarily knew of it as a hashtag campaign at the time of initial authorisation, and specifically the one that pushed #WeRaceAsOne to exist, I’m not surprised.

        1. @alianora-la-canta Good to know that you are not surprised. I guess we all can feel safer now.

      2. You’re surprised at the FIA letting him wear a BLM shirt? The FIA that organise a standing/kneeling silent protest before the start of a race?

    9. I’m thinking that people might lose sight of one of the reasons why people are watching sports in the first place: the chance to have a moment away from the daily political, economical, and stressful events.
      The argument is always made that we should see sports and politics or human rights as separate, when an event is being organised in a state that doesn’t provide human rights, or when a sport gets sponsored by a such a state owned company.

      1. Not being able to escape or ignore global issues of systemic racism, discrimination, police brutality and suppression is kind of the point though..

        Wanting to have a moment away illustrates perfectly why this issues shouldn’t exist in the first place

        1. Ironically doh the majority of people believe in systems of oppression, discrimination, class/caste, sexism, and racism, and it is called religion.

          1. @SadF1fan False. Most religions don’t believe in generating all of those, and some don’t believe in generating any of them. Of course, in many places religion has not managed to stamp out that sort of things, and in some, at various times, religion has reinforced them. However, many non-religious systems generating oppression, discrimination, class/caste, sexism, racism and other -isms proliferate too.

            It would be fairer to say that the majority of people invest in power dynamics that generate oppression, discrimination, sexism, racism and other -isms – and then try to justify them with whatever excuses they happen to think will persuade others.

    10. So if Greenpeace wants to raise a slogan against the oil companies, they can and will not be investigated?

      1. Which team does Mr Greenpeace drive for?

      2. @1abe They will because they haven’t gone through the proper channels (for a start). Every time they’ve tried so far has been through third-party guerilla marketing, which has always been against the rules and a penalisable offence.

    11. Josh (@canadianjosh)