Lewis Hamilton says he is unconcerned by six of his fellow F1 drivers opting not to take the knee before the start of the Austrian GP. Every driver wore a t-shirt over their overalls which said ‘End racism’ but in a planned moment before the race, Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz, Max Verstappen, Kimi Raikkonen, Daniil Kvyat and Antonio Giovinazzi chose to stand while Hamilton and 13 other drivers took a knee.
Leclerc and Verstappen posted messages on their social media explaining their decision not to follow Hamilton.
Speaking after finishing fourth, Hamilton was quizzed over the response by his peers and insisted that in a prior meeting he had not applied pressure on the drivers to take the knee.
“It’s still a really powerful message but whether or not you kneel is not going to change the world,” Hamilton said.
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“It’s a bigger issue across the world than something as little as that. I never even brought it up [in the GPDA meeting].
“It was brought up by F1 and the GPDA. When we did the drivers’ briefing, Seb (Vettel) and (Romain) Grosjean both brought it up and asked the drivers whether or not they would do it and there were several that said they wouldn’t.
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“And I let everyone say what they wanted to say and I opened up to them and I said I will be doing it but you do what you feel is right and I’m really grateful for those who did kneel along with me.
“Everyone had the right to their own personal choice and that was what I felt was right to do.”
Later, Hamilton took to social media himself to renew his calls for equality within the sport and society.
“Today was an important moment for me and all the people out there who are working for and hoping for change,” he wrote on Instagram.
“For a more equal and just society. I may get criticism in the media and elsewhere, but this fight is about equality, not politics or promotion.
“To me it was an emotional and poignant chapter in the progress of making F1 a more diverse and inclusive sport.
“I want a better future for our generation and the ones after us. There is so much that needs to be done. No one is perfect but if we all chip in and do our part, we can see change. I truly believe that. Thank you to my team for their incredible support and hard work this weekend and thank you to all who supported. Let’s keep pushing, guys.”
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