Lewis Hamilton, other F1 drivers take a knee at Austrian Grand Prix.

WATCH ABOVE: Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton, several drivers take a knee

Six-times world champion Lewis Hamilton and a majority of Formula One‘s 20 drivers took a knee on the starting grid before Sunday’s season-opening Austrian Grand Prix in a stance against racism.

The sport’s only Black driver, an outspoken campaigner against racial injustice and for greater diversity, wore a black T-shirt with ‘Black Lives Matter’ on the front and ‘End Racism’ on the back. The others wore ones declaring ‘End Racism’.

The knee protest was popularized by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in 2016 and has gained steam following the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis in May.

Television images from the Red Bull Ring, closed to spectators due to the COVID-19 pandemic, showed six drivers standing, including Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, while 14 knelt.

Trending Stories

  • Canadians to get first glimpse of true COVID-19 infection rate in mid-July

  • Ontario reports 138 new coronavirus cases, 2 deaths; nearly 35,800 total cases confirmed

Hamilton said he had decided his own position only the night before.

“Ultimately nobody should be forced into a scenario where they have to kneel,” the Briton told reporters after the race. “I never requested or demanded anybody to take the knee.

“It was brought up by Formula One and by the GPDA (Grand Prix Drivers’ Association). When we did the drivers’ briefing Seb (Vettel) and (Romain) Grosjean both brought it up and asked the drivers.

“I am really grateful for those who did kneel along with me. I think it’s still a really powerful message but ultimately whether you do or do not kneel, that’s not going to change the world. It’s a much, much bigger issue.”

Verstappen and Leclerc had both explained their positions on social media ahead of a race that was the first major global sporting event since countries emerged from the coronavirus lockdown.

“I believe that what matters are facts and behaviors in our daily life rather than formal gestures that could be seen as controversial in some countries,” Leclerc said on Twitter, while emphasizing his commitment to the fight against racism.

Verstappen said he believed “everyone has the right to express themself at a time and in a way that suits them.”

Formula One posted a clip of the drivers on Twitter with the words: “End Racism. One cause. One commitment. As individuals, we choose our own way to support the cause. As a group of drivers and a wider F1 family, we are united in its goal.”

© 2020 Reuters

Related news

«Rare» Pair Of Mahatma Gandhi's Iconic Glasses Go On Sale In UK.

A "rare and important" pair of iconic glasses worn by Indian independence hero Mahatma Gandhi look set to sell for tens of thousands of pounds after a British auction house put them up for sale on...

Mass Looting In Chicago, Shots Fired, Over 100 Arrested.

Chicago police exchanged gunfire with looters and arrested more than 100 people after crowds swarmed Chicago's luxury commercial district early Monday, looting stores, smashing windows and clashing...

Lebanon PM Announces Resignation Of Government Over Deadly Beirut Blasts.

Lebanon's prime minister Hassan Diab announced his government's resignation Monday amid popular outrage over the deadly Beirut port explosion that has reignited angry street protests.

U.S. 'Deeply Concerned' By Russia's Targeting Of 'Foreign Agent' Media

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says Washington is "deeply concerned" by fresh efforts by Russia to target foreign media operating there.

Iran not willing to pay compensation over downed Ukrainian passenger jet.

It's European insurance firms who should be paying, Tehran stands.

By continuing to browse World News (UAZMI), you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and agree to the use of cookies