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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.”

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.