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

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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.

Sergio Perez still has coronavirus; will miss second consecutive F1 race

F1 Sergio Perez out
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SILVERSTONE, England — Sergio Perez will be out for a second F1 race at Silverstone this week after again testing positive for the coronavirus.

The Mexican driver had hoped to return to Formula One after spending seven days in quarantine, but his Racing Point team said this morning he had tested positive.

“He is physically well and recovering,” the team said. “The whole team wishes Sergio and his family well and we look forward to his return.”

That means German veteran Nico Hulkenberg again fills in for Sunday’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix after having also replaced Sergio Perez when he was out for the F1 British Grand Prix at the same venue last week. Hulkenberg did not start that race because of an engine problem.

There are two consecutive weekends of racing at Silverstone as Formula One tries to pack in races following the pandemic-delayed start to the season.

Perez became the first Formula One driver to test positive for coronavirus, and it had been unclear whether he would be available to drive after the period of quarantine was extended to 10 days.

Racing Point also was in the news Friday after being hit with a 15-point penalty in the Formula One constructors’ championship and fined 400,000 euros ($470,000) Friday for using brake ducts based on those from last year’s Mercedes cars.

The stewards ruled that Mercedes was the “principal designer” of the parts, and that Racing Point made only minor changes to computer design data it received from Mercedes.

Rival team Renault filed protests about the legality of the brake ducts, which were added to the “listed parts” under F1 rules for 2020. That means teams must design their own. Racing Point argued it was merely using information about the Mercedes parts to inform its own design.

Racing Point uses customer engines from Mercedes and has admitted basing its 2020 car design on photographs of last year’s Mercedes car. The similarities led to the Racing Point being nicknamed the “pink Mercedes” when it was first seen in testing ahead of the season.

Racing Point can appeal the ruling. The points deduction drops the team from fifth to sixth in the standings, below Renault. The ruling doesn’t affect the points totals for Racing Point’s drivers.