Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen announced on their Twitter accounts that they don’t plan to kneel before the Austrian GP, who will run on Sunday.
Kneeling was discussed at Friday's drivers' meeting, among other things. In particular, reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton has encouraged his rival comrades to take part in a joint gesture in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
However, not all drivers have been unreserved about the idea of kneeling. Leclerc was the first to state directly that he did not intend to participate in the gesture.
- I believe that what matters is our facts and behavior in our daily lives, rather than gestures that can be seen as controversial in some countries. I’m not going to kneel, but this by no means means I’m less committed to the fight against racism, ”Leclerc wrote on his Twitter account.
“All 20 drivers are teamed up with the teams to fight racism and prejudice, while adhering to the principles of diversity, equality and inclusion, in line with formula one and the FIA commitments,” Leclerc wrote in another tweet.
About an hour later, Red Bull's Verstappen followed.
- I'm really dedicated to equality and the fight against racism, but I believe that everyone has the right to express themselves in a way that suits them. I will not kneel today, but I respect and support the personal choice made by every driver, Verstappen wrote.
F1 has brought the fight against racism strongly ahead of the season’s opening race. On Sunday, all drivers wear t-shirts with a “Stop Racism” message, and Mercedes, for example, has campaigned to change the color of its cars to dark, among other things.
Daniel Ricciardo of Renault, who, like Leclerc, recalled the possible connotations of kneeling in different cultures, also commented on the kneeling debate in the past.
- Some drivers found it difficult what kneeling means in their home countries. Of course, the reason to kneel would only be to support the Black Lives Matter movement, there is nothing political about it. However, for some drivers, there is a line drawn in the water on how the kneeling would be interpreted, Ricciardo commented to Motorsport.
- We heard everyone's opinions and we are not going to endanger anyone. We all understood that we do what feels right to us, but no one is criticized or condemned if they don’t kneel.
The Austrian GP starts at 16.10 Finnish time. Valtteri Bottas will start the race from the top spot before his teammate Hamilton.