NASCAR got the jump on other racing series by restarting first, and while there will have been financial reasons for that, it also by default became a sort of moral compass within motorsport.

It had to deliver entertainment, but it had to get safety right. And more recently, it had to use its platform to acknowledge wider issues in the world.

The progress being made by the series – the issues it faces, but also the changes it makes – are going to be closely watched by Formula 1. And those issues and changes extend far beyond the ongoing evolution of pandemic control since racing restarted.

NASCAR’s strong stance following the growing movement to address racial injustice has looked immensely impressive to someone watching from the outside. I won’t pretend to know the ins and outs of some of the decisions – my colleague Kelly Crandall expertly covered much of it – but I can tell you I’m not alone in viewing matters from an F1 perspective and being pleasantly surprised by how proactive NASCAR has appeared.

Multiple races have provided a platform for NASCAR to broadcast from, and it would be a little unfair to directly compare it to IndyCar’s approach at Texas given that was the first race back, but strong comments, direct actions, collective voices… these are all things that Formula 1 needs to demonstrate.

F1 doesn’t have that same opportunity right now while it waits for the Austrian Grand Prix to roll around, but the advantage is that it does have the time to work out what it wants to say and do. No longer is it acceptable to sit back quietly and let time act as a healer. The sport cannot hope to escape scrutiny because it won’t be back on our televisions for another three weeks. A plan needs to be put in place that extends beyond simply trying to find the next Lewis Hamilton.

Hamilton has been speaking out as the only black driver in F1’s history and said he felt like he stood alone 10 days ago. But he is very much in the minority outside of the car, too.

I can’t reach double figures when I think of the number of black people who regularly attend races in the paddock, and in the area where I personally most regularly work – the media center – I can count them on one hand.

I did a podcast recently with one of those journalists — Sam Collins — who has worked in multiple paddocks, and said that in his experience, the NASCAR press room is a much more diverse place.

Hamilton said he felt isolated as a black F1 driver, but the paddock isn’t very diverse either. Image by Mark Sutton/Motorsport Images

Whether anything that has been happening in stock car racing will turn into long-term change remains to be seen, but the spotlight that has been placed on the topic needs to register and have an impact on this side of the pond

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By: Chris Medland
Title: MEDLAND: Why F1 is watching NASCAR more closely than ever
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Published Date: Thu, 11 Jun 2020 18:07:41 +0000




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