Dear McLaren fans,
Very little has seemed certain in recent months. Unpredictability has become the ‘new normal’. But before Carlos and Lando have even turned a wheel in Austria, we can be sure of one thing, the 2020 Formula 1 season will be like no other.
After what has felt like a never-ending wait, F1 finally returns this weekend – 126 days since the chequered flag fell on pre-season testing. Who could have predicted the events that followed? A global pandemic? Entire nations brought to a standstill? The F1 season stopped before it had barely begun?
Covid-19 has been described as a once-in-a-generation event. The loss of loved ones, livelihoods and freedoms has tested the resolve of us all. From everyone at McLaren, to key workers on the frontline and those of you at home, we’ve all had a role to play in beating an invisible enemy that has challenged us in ways we could not have imagined.
At McLaren, we have risen to the challenge with the same bravery, energy and determination we show on track. We have answered the call, as part of the VentilatorChallengeUK consortium, to provide life-saving medical equipment to help health workers turn the tide as they tackle the pandemic. And we have collaborated with our partners to continue to inspire and excite you through our digital and social channels – maintaining a bond that shines bright in even the darkest hours.
No one has been immune to the effects of this disease and that includes those of us in F1, as it has accelerated the sport down a path of critical change. By working closely with F1, the FIA and the other teams, McLaren has led the charge to introduce a reduced budget cap and more even distribution of revenue to promote a level playing field that will deliver a more competitive championship. And, crucially, ensure the long-term health of the sport.
As racers we are relieved and excited by the prospect of F1 roaring into life, but we should not shield ourselves from reality. Over the course of last year’s Austrian Grand Prix weekend, the attendance was 203,000 people. It pales in comparison to the more than half a million people who, as of Tuesday, have died from covid-19. Even the British Grand Prix – the best-attended race of 2019 – with its tally of 351,000, doesn’t come close to this figure.
F1’s #WeRaceAsOne initiative is something we have been working on together with F1 for some time, to honour and thank those who have led the frontline response to covid-19, and to support those who are being particularly badly affected by this terrible disease.
We also stand unequivocally united with F1 in support of its ‘End Racism’ message, which will be carried on both McLaren race cars in Austria. McLaren has always embraced a culture of diversity and inclusion, and we recognise the need to do more in this space. Our ‘End Racism’ message will be supported by an active programme to engage with our employees to listen and understand how we can build a better plan to address key issues relating to diversity, equality and inclusion. There is absolutely no place for intolerance in this world and we are committed to driving greater diversity, inclusion and equal opportunity across our organisation and the sport as whole.
Critics may argue that now is not the time to go back racing. I have a different view. Huge sacrifice has been made to get this far, but let’s not forget what we have sacrificed for.
To live. F1, like so many sports, brings joy to many millions of people around the world.
Steve McQueen famously said: “Racing is life. Anything before or after is just waiting.” And we have waited. Whichever team someone supports, we are united by our passion for racing. Its capacity to stir the soul is unique. Its ability to shine a light on how far we’ve come and how far we can still go, has no limit.
For now, F1 will return behind closed doors, but remember to open your hearts and minds to the magic of it all. We have waited for this moment and it is finally here.
Friends, fans and fellow racers, now we race as one.
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