F1: Lewis Hamilton, Daniel Ricciardo might kneel again in prerace Sunday

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SPIELBERG, Austria — Formula One drivers Lewis Hamilton and Daniel Ricciardo are prepared to kneel again before Sunday’s Styrian Grand Prix if circumstances allow.

Before last weekend’s Austrian GP, 14 of the 20 F1 drivers knelt before the Austrian national anthem. It was part of an anti-racism message which included all drivers wearing black T-shirts with “End Racism” written on them.

A similar protocol is not planned before Sunday’s race on the same track at the Red Bull Ring, but Hamilton didn’t rule out making a statement anyway – as long as it doesn’t interfere with his preparations.

“I’m not against taking the knee again, so if I can find a way of making sure it doesn’t get in the way of us doing our job then I will,” the six-time series champion said Thursday. “We really have to continue to speak out, to continue to utilize the moment to spread awareness and continue to push for change. That’s not going to change in a couple of weeks, so I will do my utmost.”

One possibility could be for his Mercedes team to collectively kneel by the car as Red Bull team members did last Sunday.

“Maybe if we have time, that’s something my team and I can do. It’s just about time, there’s not a lot of time before the race,” said Hamilton, the only Black driver in F1.

Ricciardo echoed Hamilton’s view that last weekend shouldn’t be a one-off.

“I don’t know what the procedure’s going to be this weekend … but, of course, if there’s an opportunity again, the answer’s yes,” he said. “It’s not something that I just want to do for the moment and forget about, so if we get the chance to do it again then I will.”

Hamilton has spoken widely about racism in recent weeks since the death in Minneapolis of George Floyd. Hamilton joined a Black Lives Matter march in London and is setting up a commission to increase diversity in motorsport.

Soccer players on fields in England and Germany have taken the knee together simultaneously before games. But last weekend, F1 drivers Kimi Raikkonen, Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc, Daniil Kvyat, Antonio Giovinazzi and Carlos Sainz Jr. chose not to join.

“Our clear sign on the Sunday before the race was to wear the T-shirts which were stating `End Racism.’ I thought it was already a very strong message to the world in general,” said Kvyat, a Russian. “I would say my mentality and in my country doesn’t allow me to go on my knee.”

Sainz also felt the T-shirts sufficed. “We showed on Sunday how strong we all feel against racism. I felt like that was enough,” he said.

Hamilton spoke in the past with Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who knelt on the sideline at games during the national anthem to protest social injustice and police brutality.

Hamilton had intended to wear a red helmet with Kaepernick’s NFL number on it at the 2017 U.S. Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, but said he was advised to back down.

Hamilton was pressed further on Thursday to explain what happened back then.

“I have the worst memory, so I don’t remember absolutely all the details. I do know I was advised from outside, from someone in the States, who was really quite high up, that it wasn’t the time for me to be doing so,” he said. “There were potential consequences of me doing it, so that’s why they advised me not to do it.”

He did not give names but kept the helmet.

“I do still have that helmet that I’d done for Colin and I did speak to Colin about it, who was super supportive for me to have taken the knee,” Hamilton said. “But I’m grateful that I was able to do it last weekend and to continue on the great movement (that) he initially started, and so many are continuing on today.”

Jack Miller wins the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix as Fabio Quartararo stops his downward points’ slide

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Jack Miller ran away with the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi as Fabio Quartararo stopped his downward slide in the championship when a last-lap accident from his closest rival in the standings caused Francesco Bagnaia to score zero points.

Starting seventh, Miller quickly made his way forward. He was second at the end of two laps. One lap later, he grabbed the lead from Jorge Martin. Once in the lead, Miller posted three consecutive fastest laps and was never seriously challenged. It was Australian native Miller’s first race win of the season and his sixth podium finish.

The proximity to his home turf was not lost.

“I can ride a motorcycle sometimes,” Miller said in NBC Sports’ post-race coverage. “I felt amazing all weekend since I rolled out on the first practice. It feels so awesome to be racing on this side of the world.

“What an amazing day. It’s awesome; we have the home Grand Prix coming up shortly. Wedding coming up in a couple of weeks. I’m over the moon; can’t thank everyone enough.”

Miller beat Brad Binder to the line by 3.4 seconds with third-place Jorge Martin finishing about one second behind.

But the center of the storm was located just inside the top 10 as both Quartararo and Bagnaia started deep in the field.

Quartararo was on the outside of row three in ninth with Bagnaia one row behind in 12th. Neither rider moved up significantly, but the championship continued to be of primary importance as Bagnaia put in a patented late-race charge to settle onto Quartararo’s back tire, which would have allowed the championship leader to gain only a single point.

On the final lap, Bagnaia charged just a little too hard and crashed under heavy braking, throwing away the seven points he would have earned for a ninth-place finish.

The day was even more dramatic for the rider who entered the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix third in the standings. On the sighting lap, Aleix Espargaro had an alarm sound, so he peeled off into the pits, dropped his primary bike and jumped aboard the backup. Starting from pit lane, he trailed the field and was never able to climb into the points. An undisclosed electronic problem was the culprit.

For Quartararo, gaining eight points on the competition was more than a moral victory. This was a track on which he expected to run moderately, and he did, but the problems for his rivals gives him renewed focus with four rounds remaining.

Next week, the series heads to Thailand and then Miller’s home track of Phillip Island in Australia. They will close out the Pacific Rim portion of the schedule before heading to Spain for the finale in early November.

It would appear team orders are not in play among the Ducati riders. Last week’s winner Enea Bastianini made an aggressive early move on Bagnaia for position before the championship contender wrestled the spot back.

In his second race back following arm surgery, Marc Marquez won the pole. His last pole was more than 1,000 days ago on this same track in 2019, the last time the series competed at Motegi. Marquez slipped to fifth in the middle stages of the race, before regaining a position to finish just off the podium.

In Moto2 competition, Ai Ogura beat Augusto Fernandez to close the gap in that championship to two points. Fernandez holds the scant lead. Alonso Lopez rounded out the podium.

Both American riders, Cameron Beaubier and Joe Roberts finished just outside the top 10 in 11th and 12th respectively.