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Hamilton dominates Styrian Grand Prix after pre-race division on driver protest

Some remained standing while most knelt in protest ahead of the race.

Hamilton gives a one-fist salute atop the podium.
Hamilton gives a one-fist salute atop the podium.
Image: LEONHARD FOEGER

WORLD CHAMPION LEWIS Hamilton secured his first win of the season and the 85th of his career with a perfectly-judged victory from pole position as Mercedes reeled off a one-two finish in today’s Styrian Grand Prix.

The six-time champion bounced back from a disappointing display in the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix on the same Red Bull Ring circuit a week earlier with a consummate display.

Team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who won the curtain-raising race, finished 13.7 seconds adrift in second to deliver first Mercedes one-two in Austria since 2015 with Max Verstappen in third.

After a week of debate as to whether drivers should take a united stance on racism and all kneel before races, several seemed to miss a protest ahead of today’s race.

Working out who knelt was made more difficult because the television images from the Red Bull Ring, where spectators are banned and the movement of journalists is restricted, switched from filming the grid to focusing on an overhead para-glider before the protest had finished, but it seemed several drivers were absent.

As they did last Sunday before the season-opening Grand Prix, 19 of the 20 drivers were wearing black ‘End Racism’ t-shirts, while Lewis Hamilton wore a ‘Black Lives Matter’ shirt when six of the paddock did not take a knee.

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This time the majority again knelt as Max Verstappen of Red Bull, Charles Leclerc of Ferrari, Kimi Raikkonen of Alfa Romeo and Daniil Kvyat of Alpha Tauri stood. 

But two of last week’s holdouts, Antonio Giovinazzi of Alfa Romeo and Carlos Sainz of McLaren could not be seen on TV standing, though it is unclear if they were presnt in the paddock at the time.

Hamilton had said in advance he understood some of his colleagues might not take a knee, but on Thursday had made clear also Formula One had failed to follow the example of other major sports in demonstrating unity in the global anti-racism campaign.

Both Ferraris were eliminated after crashing together at Turn Three on the opening lap, Charles Leclerc apologising to four-time champion Sebastian Vettel, who is in his last season with the team, for his ill-judged dive down the inside that resulted in a disaster for the Italian team.

Bottas leads the embryonic championship ahead of Hamilton with Lando Norris third.

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