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
Erik Jones wants to "take some more risks" as playoffs near

Previous article

Erik Jones wants to "take some more risks" as playoffs near

Next article

Kansas NASCAR Cup Series complete race results

Kansas NASCAR Cup Series complete race results
Why dumping the MGU-H is the right move for F1 Prime

Why dumping the MGU-H is the right move for F1

OPINION: With its days apparently numbered, the MGU-H looks set to be dropped from Formula 1’s future engine rules in order to entice new manufacturers in. While it may appear a change of direction, the benefits for teams and fans could make the decision a worthwhile call

Formula 1
Sep 23, 2021
The floundering fortunes of F1’s many Lotus reboots Prime

The floundering fortunes of F1’s many Lotus reboots

Team Lotus ceased to exist in 1994 - and yet various parties have been trying to resurrect the hallowed name, in increasingly unrecognisable forms, ever since. Damien Smith brings GP Racing’s history of the legendary team to an end with a look at those who sought to keep the flame alive in Formula 1.

Formula 1
Sep 22, 2021
Why the 2021 title fight is far from F1's worst, despite its toxic background Prime

Why the 2021 title fight is far from F1's worst, despite its toxic background

OPINION: Formula 1 reconvenes for the Russian Grand Prix two weeks after the latest blow in ‘Max Verstappen vs Lewis Hamilton’. While the Silverstone and Monza incidents were controversial, they thankfully lacked one element that so far separates the 2021 title fight from the worst examples of ugly championship battles

Formula 1
Sep 22, 2021
How Mika Hakkinen thrived at Lotus Prime

How Mika Hakkinen thrived at Lotus

Mika Hakkinen became Michael Schumacher’s biggest rival in Formula 1 in the late-90s and early 2000s, having also made his F1 debut in 1991. But as MARK GALLAGHER recalls, while Schumacher wowed the world with a car that was eminently capable, Hakkinen was fighting to make his mark with a famous team in terminal decline

Formula 1
Sep 21, 2021
The forgotten F1 comeback that began Jordan’s odyssey  Prime

The forgotten F1 comeback that began Jordan’s odyssey 

Before Michael Schumacher – or anyone else – had driven the 191 (or 911 as it was initially called), Eddie Jordan turned to a fellow Irishman to test his new Formula 1 car. JOHN WATSON, a grand prix winner for Penske and McLaren, recalls his role in the birth of a legend…

Formula 1
Sep 20, 2021
The squandered potential of a 70s F1 underdog Prime

The squandered potential of a 70s F1 underdog

A podium finisher in its first outing but then never again, the BRM P201 was a classic case of an opportunity squandered by disorganisation and complacency, says Stuart Codling.

Formula 1
Sep 18, 2021
The other notable Monza escape that F1 should learn from Prime

The other notable Monza escape that F1 should learn from

OPINION: The headlines were dominated by the Italian Grand Prix clash between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, who had the halo to thank for avoiding potentially serious injury. But two days earlier, Formula 1 had a lucky escape with a Monza pitlane incident that could also have had grave consequences.

Formula 1
Sep 17, 2021
How Monza only added more questions to F1's sprint race conundrum Prime

How Monza only added more questions to F1's sprint race conundrum

With two sprint races under its belt, Formula 1 must now consider its options for them going forward. While they've helped deliver exciting racing on Sundays, the sprints themselves have been somewhat lacking - creating yet another conundrum for F1 to solve...

Formula 1
Sep 16, 2021