F1: 14 of 20 drivers take a knee before season opener at Austria


Led by six-time series champion Lewis Hamilton, 14 Formula One drivers took a knee Sunday before the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix.

Hamilton, the only Black driver in F1, wore a shirt in support of Black Lives Matter, a cause he vocally has been supporting for the past month. The other 19 drivers wore “End Racism” shirts, which was painted on the track.

After the race, winner Valtteri Bottas, Hamilton’s teammate, knelt while holding the trophy, and the podium trio of Bottas, Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris held up a black “End Racism” T-shirt.

Hamilton has formed a council to study minority involvement in motorsports and has challenged F1 and its teams to diversify its staffs.

His Mercedes team is running all-black cars this season for Hamilton and Bottas to raise awareness of BLM.

Lewis Hamilton wears a shirt reading “Black Lives Matter” before the Formula One season opener (Mark Thompson/Pool/AFP/via Getty Images).

Of the 20 drivers in the field, six elected to stand: Leclerc, Max Verstappen, Antonio Giovinazzi, Daniil Kvyat, Carlos Sainz Jr. and Kimi Raikkonen.

Leclerc and Verstappen both said on Twitter that they supported 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,” Leclerc wrote. “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.”

Hamilton said Saturday some drivers still misunderstood protesting.

“Silence is generally complicit. There still is some silence in some cases,” Hamilton said. “There are people who still don’t fully understand exactly what is happening and what (is) the reason for these protests.”

Motorsport’s governing body FIA said Sunday it will donate 1 million euros ($1.12 million) to improve diversity in motorsport.