Formula One drivers wore shirts that said End Racism and took a knee during Sunday’s season-opening Austrian Grand Prix.
Nineteen of the 20 drivers wore the End Racism shirts, with the U.K.’s Lewis Hamilton, the only current Black driver in Formula One, wearing one that said Black Lives Matter
Fourteen of the drivers took a knee during Sundays race.
End Racism. One cause. One commitment, Formula One tweeted, along with a video of the drivers. 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.
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.#WeRaceAsOnepic.twitter.com/qjxYi1zWcJ
Formula 1 (@F1) July 5, 2020
Hamilton, who has been outspoken about racial inequality amid international protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd, said Sundays race was an important moment for him and all the people out there who are working for and hoping for change.
I may get criticism in the media and elsewhere, but this fight is about equality, not politics or promotion. To me it was an emotional and poignant chapter in the progress of making F1 a more diverse and inclusive sport, he said on social media.
Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) July 5, 2020
Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen, two of the drivers who decided not to kneel, tweeted about their decision not to join the majority of racers on Sunday.
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
Former NFL player Colin Kaepernick started peacefully demonstrating against police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem in 2016 when he was a quarterback with the San Francisco 49ers. Other athletes across the U.S. and beyond have followed Kaepernicks lead, especially in light of recent protests following Floyds death in Minneapolis Police custody.
NASCAR, the leading auto racing league in the U.S., recently banned the Confederate flag from its events after a push from Black driver Bubba Wallace.