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Lewis Hamilton hopes to unite the grid on issue of taking the knee

‘Some of the drivers maybe don’t fully understand how impactful their voices can be to people,’ said Hamilton, the only black driver in F1.

Lewis Hamilton (R) and Sebastian Vettel (L).
Lewis Hamilton (R) and Sebastian Vettel (L).
Image: Mark Thompson

LEWIS HAMILTON SAYS he has spoken to some of the drivers who have not taken a knee and hopes to unite the grid on the issue.

Just 11 of the 20 drivers joined Hamilton in performing the anti-racism gesture ahead of Sunday’s Styrian Grand Prix.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, and 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen are among those who have elected to stand before the opening two grands prix.

“We had the drivers’ briefing on Friday, and afterwards we all stayed on and debated whether to take a knee again,” said Hamilton, who claimed his first victory of the season with a dominant performance at Spielberg’s Red Bull Ring. “I said I am going to continue to do it.

“After the Zoom call, I tried to spend one-on-one time with a few of those who had chosen to stand, and to have a chat with them.

Some of the drivers maybe don’t fully understand how impactful their voices can be to people. Some of them don’t want to support ‘Black Lives Matter’ but they stand for anti-racism, which is the same thing.

“I have made it clear that I am not supporting the political side but the human rights’ side of things.

“From the drivers’ point of view we are going to come closer through this. I am not saying that everyone is going to take a knee. But over time as we get to talk about it more often I would like to think we will all be together in the understanding of it.”

Hamilton performed a Black Power salute on top of his Mercedes and again on the podium following his triumph in Austria on Sunday.

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The 35-year-old, whose win took him to within four points of championship leader and team-mate Valtteri Bottas, then vowed to spend the rest of his life combating racism.

He announced before the season that he will launch the Hamilton Commission in the hope of improving diversity in Formula One. Hamilton remains the only black driver on the grid.

“It seems that for hundreds of years, for people of colour, their lives have been less important,” added the Mercedes driver.

“There are some people who have not grown up around it, who don’t have friends who have been subjected to abuse.

“I have got black friends who have managed to go through their lives without any particular abuse in their community. They have grown up in a black community, where there are others who, like myself, have grown up in a white community.

What I can say is that this is not it. Us taking a knee and having a black car doesn’t solve the problem, it raises awareness but we have got a whole season, a whole year and in my mind we have got a constant fight that we all have to do.

“We can all chip in, play our part and have a positive impact.”

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