Last Updated: 09/07/20 6:23pm
Lewis Hamilton believes F1 can learn from football and other sports, who he says have done a “better job” in showing a “unanimous united front” against racism.
F1’s stars came together at the front of the grid ahead of last Sunday’s season-opening Grand Prix, but only 14 of the grid’s 20 drivers made the gesture of taking a knee.
Hamilton, who has been a powerful voice in support of Black Lives Matter and anti-racism, says while it was a “step in the right direction” F1 can still learn from both football – where all Premier League players have taken a knee before each game since last month’s season restart – and American’s NASCAR racing series.
Asked by Sky Sports F1 whether he was as pleased with the people who joined him in taking a knee as disappointed in those who did not, Hamilton replied: “I’ve never said whether or not I was disappointed at the other guys, but we do need to look at these other sports who ultimately have done a better job in showing their unanimous united front.
“I’m so impressed with what football’s done. I’m really impressed with how NASCAR, for example, was one of the first sports to come out to immediately react and hold themselves accountable.
“We’ve got to do more, being that we’re such a global sport. It is a step in the right direction but there’s no reason why we should be different to a sport like football, which is the biggest sport in the world.
“We need to take a leaf out of their conduct and try to take that forwards.”
All drivers explained their respective stances on taking a knee as the Styrian GP weekend began.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was among those to stand last Sunday and explained why he chose to do so.
“Formula 1 left us the choice to express ourselves in the way we wanted,” Leclerc told Sky Sports. “We all went [to the front of the grid] and it was clearly written on our shirt to end racism, which is the main message we want to pass through.
“Anybody is free to express it the way we want and that’s what I did, I wanted to stand. I bowed my head to respect this, and yes I’m completely against racism.
“I’ve seen a few things on social media, honestly, that disgust me, to judge someone racist just because he didn’t take the knee for me is not right and it’s definitely not me. But I wanted to do it that way.”
Hamilton: ‘We really have to continue to speak out’
Hamilton said he did not yet know whether he would be taking a knee again ahead of Sunday’s second race at the Red Bull Ring, with no similar formal gathering for that purpose before the Austrian anthem currently planned.
But, irrespective of whether he made the gesture again this season, the six-time world champion insisted the topic of Black Lives Matter and anti-racism must remain on the long-term global agenda.
“I don’t really know. This weekend I don’t believe we have that position that’s ahead of the national anthem where he had the space and the time to utilise the moment and make a stand,” said Hamilton in the pre-event news conference.
“I don’t believe that’s there now, so I think you’ll probably go to the national anthem and it’s not my goal to take a knee during the national anthem. So, if there is another opportunity…
“It was really encouraging to see at least one of the teams taking the knee. I think it was one of the Red Bull team’s cars taking a knee, which I thought was great.
“If we have time maybe that’s something that my team and I could do. It’s just about time, there’s not a lot of time before the race.
The six-time world champion reiterated that topic of publicly fighting against racism and discrimination had to remain on the long-term agenda globally.
He added: “But what I do think is important though is people of colour don’t really have the time to have this as a small moment, and then go back to things as normal.
“We really gave to continue to speak out and we need to utilise the moment to spread awareness and continue to push for change. That’s not going to go away any time soon, that’s not going to change in a couple of weeks. I will do my utmost. I’m not against taking the knee again. If I can find a way of making sure that it doesn’t get in the way of us doing our job, then I will.