Carry on kneeling: Formula 1 champ Lewis Hamilton ‘free to kneel for rest of the season’ in support of Black Lives Matter
Outspoken Black Lives Matter supporter Lewis Hamilton will reportedly be allowed to continue kneeling before Formula 1 races for the rest of his current title defence, with drivers set to mull the divisive subject again on Friday.
Hamilton knelt before the first round of the season at the Austrian Grand Prix, although six other drivers, including Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc, shunned the opportunity to follow suit in the moments leading up to the race.
The reigning champion confirmed that he would carry on performing the symbolic gesture if allowed to do so, and Formula 1’s American owners, Liberty Media, have now joined governing body the FIA to grant Hamilton permission, according to PA.
“All the drivers were very clear that they support ending racism,” insisted McLaren boss Zak Brown, speaking to the BBC after seeing one of his drivers, Spaniard Carlos Sainz, opt to stand rather than kneel.
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“People are entitled to express their views in different ways so I personally don’t think one gesture is necessarily how you have to do that.”
Hamilton finished second in the season opener behind teammate Valtteri Bottas but was demoted to fourth for a collision with Red Bull driver Alexander Albon, who called him a “sore loser”.
Verstappen and Leclerc received considerable criticism after announcing their decisions, with some fans questioning why they refused to make a “simple gesture”.
I am very committed to equality and the fight against racism. But I believe everyone has the right to express themself at a time and in a way that suits them. I will not take the knee today but respect and support the personal choices every driver makes #WeRaceAsOne #EndRacism
— Max Verstappen (@Max33Verstappen) July 5, 2020
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. 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.
— Charles Leclerc (@Charles_Leclerc) July 5, 2020
“I believe everyone has the right to express themself at a time and in a way that suits them,” explained Verstappen.
“I will not take the knee today but respect and support the personal choices every driver makes.”
Former Formula 2 champion Leclerc said he had been worried that taking a knee would have been seen as controversial in some countries.
“I believe that what matters are facts and behaviors in our daily life rather than formal gestures,” he added.
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