Lewis Hamilton has urged Formula One to "seize the day" and make meaningful change in the fight for inclusivity and equality as Mercedes revealed all-black livery in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
The German manufacturer has switched from their traditional Silver Arrows design for the delayed 2020 season, which begins in Austria this weekend with an amended calendar due to the coronavirus crisis.
In a statement released on Monday, Mercedes reiterated its promise to do more to improve the diversity of the team, as well as take a stand against racism and prejudice.
In addition to the new-look livery, F1 champion Hamilton and team-mate Valtteri Bottas will race in black overalls, with each driver adapting their helmet design, while Mercedes added "the call to 'End Racism' will feature on the halo of both cars, and the united F1 initiative #WeRaceAsOne will be featured on the mirrors of the W11".
Hamilton has been a strong voice in the fight for equality following the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis last month and the six-time F1 champion thanked Mercedes and team chief Toto Wolff for making a statement.
"It's so important that we seize this moment and use it to educate ourselves, whether you are an individual, brand or company, to make real meaningful changes when it comes to ensuring equality and inclusivity," Hamilton said.
"I have personally experienced racism in my life and seen my family and friends experience racism, and I am speaking from the heart when I appeal for change.
"When I spoke to Toto about my hopes for what we could achieve as a team, I said it was so important that we stand united.
"I would like to say a huge thank you to Toto and the Mercedes board for taking the time to listen, to talk, and to really understand my experiences and passion, and for making this important statement that we are willing to change and improve as a business.
"We want to build a legacy that goes beyond sport, and if we can be the leaders and can start building more diversity within our own business, it will send such a strong message and give others the confidence to begin a dialogue about how they can implement change."
Wolff added: "Racism and discrimination have no place in our society, our sport or our team: this is a core belief at Mercedes.
"But having the right beliefs and the right mindset isn't enough if we remain silent. We wish to use our voice and our global platform to speak up for respect and equality, and the Silver Arrow will race in black for the entire 2020 season to show our commitment to greater diversity within our team and our sport.
"We will not shy away from our weaknesses in this area, nor from the progress we must still make; our livery is our public pledge to take positive action.
"We intend to find and attract the very best talents from the broadest possible range of backgrounds, and to create credible pathways for them to reach our sport, in order to build a stronger and more diverse team in the future."
Bottas said Mercedes must be part of a wider change in F1.
"Formula One is a world that is defined by performance, but it still contains many barriers for people who come from backgrounds that haven’t traditionally been part of the sport," he said.
"We know that our teams are stronger when they are more representative of the society we are part of, and it is important for us to be united and show our commitment to change."