FILE PHOTO: Formula One F1 – Steiermark Grand Prix – Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Styria, Austria – July 12, 2020 Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel wear shirts in support of the Black Lives Matter campaign and protective face masks before the race, following the resumption of F1 after the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Mark Thompson/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo
The Briton took a knee with 11 drivers before the race while wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt and then gave a raised fist salute on his car and on the podium after winning at the Red Bull Ring.
It was the second weekend in a row that drivers have knelt before the start, although not all have done so. Taking the knee has become a common act of protest against racism and police brutality since the killing on May 25 of George Floyd, a Black American, by a white police officer in Minneapolis unleashed a global outpouring of sadness and outrage.
The gesture was not part of the official programme, as it had been before the season-opener at the same Austrian circuit when Formula One and teams emphasised an anti-racism message.
“We’ve seen Red Bull’s mechanics take a knee, which I think is great, but as businesses and as teams…if you look at Ferrari who have thousands of people working with them, I’ve heard no word of Ferrari saying that they hold themselves accountable, and this is what they’re going to do for their future,” the sport’s only Black driver told reporters.
“And we need the teams to do that. We need Formula One and the FIA to be more leading in those scenarios, saying ‘hey guys, all of us together, everyone needs to pull together and fight for this.’
“I think a lot of people don’t know what the problem is,” added Hamilton, who has set up a commission to push for equal opportunity and more diversity in motorsport. “Some people deny there is a problem.”
There was no immediate comment from Ferrari, whose race on Sunday lasted about 20 seconds until Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc collided.
Vettel has knelt alongside Hamilton before both races, however, while Leclerc remained standing but with ‘End Racism’ on his shirt.
“Formula One left us the choice to express ourselves in the way we wanted,” Leclerc said. “It was clearly written on our shirt to end racism, which is the main message we want to pass through.”
Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Raissa Kasolowsky
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