Are Mercedes really planning to switch back from a black to silver livery? · RaceFans

  • F1 News

When Mercedes ditched its traditional silver colour scheme for a black paint job in 2020, the team made a powerful, visual statement about its commitment to promoting diversity and tackling racism.

However Austrian and German media reports have claimed the team will revert to its heritage silver paintwork for the 2022 F1 season.

Making a sudden change in livery one season only to drop it again two years later might seem an unusual move. But the first reports indicating this was Mercedes’ plan emerged back October 2020, when team principal Toto Wolff was quoted by Austrian motoring magazine Auto Revue as saying they would keep their new look for one more season, then change the year after.

The team batted away questions about its livery plans last year, pointing out – not unreasonably – that the championship fight against Red Bull was their priority. Shortly before the new year German newspaper Bild restated the claims a change was coming, telling its readers “the silver arrows will be silver again”.

After the new year Mercedes put out a teaser image of a 2022 show car in a black livery with Mercedes logos superimposed onto its nose and Halo. The show car was obtained last year for livery testing purposes.

The black Mercedes livery appeared in 2020This in itself does not mean Mercedes are changing their colour scheme again: Teams regularly conduct such tests to evaluate how well their paint jobs will appear in photographs and on television. The car was photographed in black prior to being painted for the tests.

Although Mercedes has yet to reveal its livery plans for the upcoming season, RaceFans understands it has decided how its car will look.

In 2020 the team launched its car in one colour and then raced it in another. The W11, like its 10 predecessors, was originally seen in a silver livery.

Mercedes had dabbled with an alternative look the year before at the 2019 German Grand Prix where it ran a part-white colour scheme in a nod towards a famous (though untrue) tale about an early race contested by the team. But the black livery was no one-off.

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The change from silver to black in 2020 came about at the instigation of Lewis Hamilton, after he reflected on the lack of diversity he saw in F1 teams’ staff photographs and was spurred into action by the Black Lives Matter protests which arose in response to the killing of George Floyd on May 25th. The start of the F1 season had been delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and during the hiatus Hamilton discussed with Wolff what the team could do to encourage greater participation in motorsport by black people and others from under-represented backgrounds.

The following month Hamilton launched The Hamilton Commission to promote diversity in motorsport. A few days later Mercedes revealed its change in livery, accompanied by a commitment to launch a programme to improve the diversity of its workforce.

“In our organisation, just 3% of our workforce identify as belonging to minority ethnic groups and only 12% of our employees are women,” the team noted at the time. “This lack of diversity shows that we need to find new approaches to attract talent from many areas of society we do not currently reach.”

The black livery has remained while Mercedes has begun taking steps towards its goal of bringing 25% of its new recruits from under-represented groups in every year until the end of 2025. This target was defined in its Accelerate 25…

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