Willy T. Ribbs: F1 "light years" ahead of US racing in diversity

Willy T. Ribbs believes that Formula 1 is “light years” ahead of American motorsports in improving diversity, praising its drivers for “manning up” in their recent anti-racism messaging.

Willy T. Ribbs: F1 "light years" ahead of US racing in diversity

Ribbs, 65, was the first black man to drive an F1 car when he tested for Brabham in 1986, and went on to break similar ground at the Indianapolis 500 when he qualified for the race in 1991.

Amid ongoing activism around the world condemning racism in recent weeks, there has been a big focus on improving diversity within motorsport, chiefly led by Lewis Hamilton.

Hamilton became the first black full-time driver in F1 in 2007, and has gone on to become one of the most successful drivers in its history, as well as being the most prominent voice in its recent efforts to condemn racism and make the sport more diverse.

A number of drivers have taken a knee before each of the opening three races of the 2020 season, led by Hamilton, who is calling for a greater platform for F1 to convey its message.

Ribbs has been a guest of Hamilton at the United States Grand Prix in recent years, and stressed the importance of the Mercedes driver’s leadership in F1’s diversity push, saying it helped the sport stand out from American series.

"Formula 1 is light years ahead of anything that America is doing, light years, to this moment,” Ribbs said on F1’s Beyond the Grid podcast.

“I think what that young man is doing is fabulous. Formula 1 is a worldwide sport, a huge platform.

“A lot of athletes, especially the ones over here in America, they’re afraid of losing money, they’re afraid of losing their commercial value.

“Lewis put it all on the line, and I’m watching these other drivers in Formula 1, all these young drivers, they’re all manning up. They’re manning up and doing the right thing.

“That’s what Muhammad Ali did, Muhammad Ali manned up. I’m proud of them. And I’m proud of Formula 1, and Mercedes more importantly. I’m dressed in all-black right now, because of Mercedes.”

Read Also:

Mercedes has switched to an all-black livery for the 2020 season in a strong anti-racism message, while F1 has launched a new ‘We Race as One’ campaign, targeting a more inclusive and diverse sport.

But Ribbs said Hamilton’s messaging and profile was important to enacting real change in F1 and making it more diverse, something he felt was key to its “survival”.

“Six world championships builds credibility. There’s nothing more credible than that,” Ribbs said.

“He now can use that. Formula 1 can use it, and they should use it. Take Lewis Hamilton’s brand, which the whole world is seeing, and bring these kids along for the survival of the sport. Not just bringing diversity to the sport, but for the survival of it.

“[Hamilton] can change a tonne. I would like to team up with him on that. Lewis ran into a lot of opposition, but he didn’t get death threats. I know a little bit of how rough it is.

“Same with this young kid in NASCAR, Bubba Wallace, those boys don’t know how tough it was. But I dealt with it a different way. I never complained about it. If I dealt with it, I dealt with it with my fists. That’s how I dealt with racism, and I will continue to deal with it like that.

“I think the sport now sees here’s a great opportunity for it to really expand its base. Keep that momentum going. Bring on the next Lewis Hamilton.

“Formula 1 has got drivers from all over the world, from different countries. Formula 1 looks progressive. None of the other sports do, despite NASCAR having Bubba Wallace.

“Is Bubbs there for show, or is Bubbs there for go? Well, Lewis is in Formula 1 for go."

shares
Horner reveals factors behind Verstappen's pre-race crash

Previous article

Horner reveals factors behind Verstappen's pre-race crash

Next article

McLaren set for shock F1 reunion with iconic Gulf Oil brand

McLaren set for shock F1 reunion with iconic Gulf Oil brand
The F1 champion who became an Indy king in his second career Prime

The F1 champion who became an Indy king in his second career

Emerson Fittipaldi’s decision to go racing with his brother led to him falling out of F1, but he bloomed again on the IndyCar scene. NIGEL ROEBUCK considers a career of two halves

Why Mercedes is pleased to be in the Hungary hunt at a 'Red Bull track' Prime

Why Mercedes is pleased to be in the Hungary hunt at a 'Red Bull track'

Mercedes ended Friday practice at the Hungaroring with a clear gap to Red Bull thanks to Valtteri Bottas’s pace in topping FP2. But there are other reasons why the Black Arrows squad feels satisfied with its progress so far at a track many Formula 1 observers reckon favours Red Bull overall...

Formula 1
Jul 30, 2021
How Red Bull endured its second car crash in two weeks Prime

How Red Bull endured its second car crash in two weeks

OPINION: Red Bull was justified to be upset that Lewis Hamilton survived his British GP clash with Max Verstappen and went on to win. But its attempts to lobby the FIA to reconsider the severity of Hamilton's in-race penalty were always likely to backfire, and have only succeeded in creating a PR disaster that will distract from its on-track efforts

Formula 1
Jul 30, 2021
The ‘screaming’ F1 engine future that may not be out of reach Prime

The ‘screaming’ F1 engine future that may not be out of reach

OPINION: It wasn't just the Verstappen/Hamilton clash that had the Red Bull and Mercedes bosses at loggerheads at Silverstone, with the nature of Formula 1's 2025 engines also subject for disagreement. But hopes to have loud, emotive engines that are also environmentally friendly don't have to be opposed.

Formula 1
Jul 29, 2021
How Lotus uncovered, then squandered its last ‘unfair advantage’ Prime

How Lotus uncovered, then squandered its last ‘unfair advantage’

Cast in the mould of its founder Colin Chapman, Lotus was powerful and daring but flawed – as it proved through further soaring peaks and painful troughs into the 1980s. DAMIEN SMITH examines a game-changing era

Formula 1
Jul 27, 2021
The core problems Yas Marina’s long-awaited tweaks won't address Prime

The core problems Yas Marina’s long-awaited tweaks won't address

OPINION: Changes to the layout of Abu Dhabi’s circuit aim to reverse the trend of insipid Formula 1 races there - the promoter has even described one of the new corners as “iconic”. And that, argues STUART CODLING, is one of this venue’s abiding failings

Formula 1
Jul 26, 2021
How Ferrari offered Callum Ilott what Red Bull couldn't Prime

How Ferrari offered Callum Ilott what Red Bull couldn't

Last year's Formula 2 runner-up Callum Ilott could be on his way to becoming the first Briton to contest a grand prix in an Alfa Romeo since Reg Parnell in 1950. But, says Oleg Karpov, the Ferrari Driver Academy protege is having to temper his ambition at the moment – outwardly at least…

Formula 1
Jul 25, 2021
The signs that point to F1's rude health Prime

The signs that point to F1's rude health

OPINION: Formula 1's calendar might still be facing disruption as the pandemic affects travel but, says Mark Gallagher, the business itself is fundamentally strong thanks to the epic rivalry taking place on track and the consistent arrival of new sponsors.

Formula 1
Jul 24, 2021