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Hamilton: No plans to take knee at USGP despite support for protests

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Three-time Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton says he has no plans to take a knee during the national anthem ahead of this weekend’s United States Grand Prix, but has reiterated his support for the recent protests through professional sports.

A number of peaceful protests during the American national anthem have taken place at NFL games in recent weeks to protest civil rights abuses in a bid for social change in the United States, as started by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Hamilton revealed in an interview last month he was considering taking a knee during the American national anthem ahead of this weekend’s race in Austin, Texas, having repeatedly expressed his support for the movement.

However, the Mercedes driver has no plans to do so at the moment, as he said during Thursday’s FIA press conference at the Circuit of The Americas.

“I don’t really have a position, and I don’t have any plans,” Hamilton said, before expressing his continued support for those protesting.

“Of course there has been a lot of mention of it – not of kneeling, just the whole situation – and I know a lot of people here in America, both black and white people who live in America.

“So I get quite a good view of what is happening here and opinions here in the States about the movement which I think is pretty huge.

“I’ve posted about it because I respect it highly and I find the movement that Kaepernick started is awesome. I’m very much in support of it.

“I am here to win, and that is part of my priority at the moment and what I am focused on at the moment.”

Hamilton can clinch his fourth F1 title in Austin this weekend if he outscores Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel by 16 points, but the Briton stressed he is not focusing on wrapping up the championship early.

“I think the talk of the championship win this weekend is silly really. You can’t expect [Ferrari] to have a difficult weekend again, they are going to be quick and will have an opportunity to win,” Hamilton said.

“The championship – as long as it is done in the next four races, that is my focus. I honestly couldn’t care less if it was here or the last race just as long as it is done.

“I think winning here is the most important thing for me, particularly in the heat of all that is going on in this country. I think that is a priority for me.”

Verstappen doesn’t want F1 season to end after recent run of form

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Max Verstappen says he is not ready for the 2017 Formula 1 season to come to an end after enjoying a run of strong form through the closing stages of the campaign.

Verstappen endured a rocky run of form through to the end of the European season that saw him suffer a number of reliability issues and score just a single podium finish, taking third in China back in April.

However, the Dutchman has rallied to score more points than any other driver in the last five races, including victories in Malaysia and Mexico, as well as a podium finish in Japan.

Verstappen heads into next weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix chasing a third win of the year to sign off, but joked he does not want the season to end just as he’s got into a good groove.

“We will, of course, try and end the season with a strong result in Abu Dhabi,” Verstappen said. “Last year was actually quite a good race after skipping a pit stop following a spin at Turn 1, it was hard to manage the tires to the end of the race but we did it and finished fourth.

“I would say that my favorite part of the track is at Turns 2 and 3, the fast left, right. It’s also very cool driving underneath the hotel and racing in the darkness with all the lights.

“The final sector at Yas Marina is actually quite technical so you have to be really precise there, but it should also be our strongest part of the track.

“There are quite a few overtaking opportunities to make the race interesting, before the long straight at the hairpin and then at the end of the straight under braking for the next chicane section.

“Abu Dhabi is the last race on the calendar, but I don’t actually want the season to end. I’m really fired up at the moment and I just want to keep going.

“The nice thing will be to spend some time with friends and family over the winter break and then I will look ahead to January and get back into training before it all starts again.”