Lewis Hamilton Leads 14 Formula One Drivers to Take a Knee Against Racism Before Austrian Grand Prix

Formula One F1 – Austrian Grand Prix – Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Styria, Austria – July 5, 2020 – Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and the rest of the drivers kneel on the grid wearing an anti-racism T-shirt before the race
Mark Thompson/Pool via REUTERS

Fourteen drivers took a knee before the Formula 1 season-opening Austrian Grand Prix.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen said they would not before the race, but both emphasised their support for the fight against racism.

Antonio Giovinazzi, Daniil Kvyat, Carlos Sainz and Kimi Raikkonen were the other drivers to remain standing.

Lewis Hamilton wore a T-shirt with the words ‘Black Lives Matter’.

All other drivers wore similar black T-shirts that displayed the words ‘End Racism’. Many team staff and personnel also took a knee.

“End racism. One cause. One commitment,” Formula 1 said.

“As individuals, we choose our own way to support the cause. As a group of drivers and a wider F1 family, we are united in its goal.”

Leclerc and Verstappen were the first two drivers to state their position on a topic that has caused controversy among the F1 drivers.

Leclerc said his decision was based on the fact that taking the knee “could be seen as controversial in some countries”, but did not elaborate on that point.

He added: “I believe what matters are facts and behaviours in our daily life rather than formal gestures.

“I will not take the knee but this does not mean at all that I am less committed than others in the fight against racism.”

Verstappen said: “I am very committed to equality and the fight against racism. But I believe everyone has the right to express themselves at a time and in a way that suits them.

“I will not take the knee today but respect and support the personal choices every driver makes.”

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SOURCE: BBC News, Andrew Benson