Hamilton thanks the 13 F1 drivers who took a knee before race in Austria
Lewis Hamilton has thanked the 13 Formula 1 drivers who opted to take a knee with him before the start of the Austrian Grand Prix.
Hamilton confirmed that he only decided on Saturday night after qualifying he would opt to make a gesture that is regarded as a statement of support in the fight against racism and battle for equality.
With the exception of Hamilton, who were a 'Black Lives Matter' t-shirt, the other 19 all sported t-shirts with 'End Racism' wording.
Assessing the very public display as F1 returned to racing action after a 217-day absence, Hamilton said: "Honestly, I don't know everyone's different reasons or opinions.
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"I am aware of some opinions from some of the drivers, but that's a private thing and I wouldn't like to share it, but I think ultimately nobody should be forced into a scenario where they have to kneel."
Addressing for the second time over the weekend an erroneous news article, Hamilton added: "I really would like to correct [something] because there is one story out there that is really incorrect.
"I never requested or demanded anybody to take the knee. I never even brought it up. It was brought up by Formula 1, and it was brought up by the GPDA.
"When we did the drivers' briefing, Seb [Vettel] and [Romain] Grosjean both brought it up and asked the drivers whether they would do it, and there were several that said they wouldn't.
"I let everyone say what they wanted to say, and I just opened up to them and said 'Look guys, I will be doing it but you do what you feel is right'.
"I'm really, really grateful to those who did kneel along with me. I think it's still a really powerful message.
"But whether or not you kneel or do not kneel, that's not going to change the world. It's a much, much bigger issue across the world than something as little as that.
"For me personally, everyone had a right to their own personal choice, and for me personally that is what I felt was the right thing to do."
Explaining his reasons for opting against taking a knee, via his Twitter feed Verstappen said: "I am very committed to equality and the fight against racism. But I believe everyone has the right to express themself [sic] at a time and in a way that suits them", adding that he respects and supports "the personal choices that every driver makes".
As for Leclerc, although he also opted against such an action, he said: "This does not mean at all that I am less committed than others in the fight against racism.
"I believe that what matters are facts and behaviours in our daily life rather than formal gestures that could be seen as controversial in some countries.
"All 20 drivers stand united with their teams against racism and prejudice, at the same time embracing the principles of diversity, equality and inclusion, supporting Formula 1's and FIA's commitment."
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