Charles Leclerc Among F1 Drivers Who Declined to Kneel Before Austrian GP

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistJuly 5, 2020

Drivers take a knee n support of the Black Lives Matter movement before the Austrian Formula One Grand Prix race at the Red Bull Ring racetrack in Spielberg, Austria, Sunday, July 5, 2020. (Dan Istitene/Pool via AP)
Dan Istitene/Associated Press

Six of the 20 drivers in the Austrian Grand Prix declined to take a knee to protest racial injustice ahead of Sunday's Formula One race.

The sport promoted the anti-racism message in support of the Black Lives Matter protests in the United States, but acknowledged drivers had "the freedom to show their support for ending racism in their own way and will be free to choose how to do this," per Nate Saunders of ESPN.

Though 14 took a knee ahead of the Austrian national anthem, Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc, Kimi Raikkonen, Daniil Kvyat, Carlos Sainz and Antonio Giovinazzi all remained standing, per Saunders.

Verstappen and Leclerc explained their thought processes on Twitter Sunday:

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Lewis Hamilton is the sport's only black driver and kneeled while wearing a shirt that read "Black Lives Matter."

Hamilton, who is the reigning world champion in Formula One after an impressive 2019 season, spoke to his fellow drivers in a briefing Saturday while asking them to use their platform to speak out against racism.

"I still think there's people that don't fully understand what's happening and the reason for the protest," he said. "So I continue to try and be that guider, and influence as many people as I can with it."

The Austrian Grand Prix is the first event of the 2020 season after the schedule was changed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The drivers will remain on the same track for the Styrian Grand Prix set for next weekend.