Hamilton not giving up on convincing all drivers to take a knee

Lewis Hamilton is hoping to convince all 20 F1 drivers to take a knee on the grid, having talked in private with those who have shied away from the gesture.

The anti-racism demonstration was initiated on the Austrian Grand Prix grid and then repeated last week at the Red Bull Ring before the Styrian Grand Prix.

It was rushed and rather disorganized affair however, with several drivers joining the line-up either to kneel or stand while the short ceremonial was already underway.

The majority of the field has participated in the pre-race observance but six drivers – Max Verstappen, Antonio Giovinazzi, Daniil Kvyat, Carlos Sainz, Charles Leclerc and Kimi Raikkonen – have refrained from kneeling, for various personal reasons although they all donned the ‘End Racism’ t-shirt.

    Hamilton: ‘I never demanded anybody to take the knee’

In order to try and reinforce F1’s display of unity, Hamilton has talked directly with those who have chosen the stand ahead of the races in Austria.

“There wasn’t a plan to [kneel] again, for whatever reason, but we did the drivers’ briefing, and we stay on afterwards and have a Zoom chat,” said Hamilton.

“We had this debate of whether we’re going to do it again. I said I’m going to continue to do it.

“There were some that were like: ‘Well I already did it last week, I’m not doing it again.’ There were some that continued to have the same approach that they had to the first week.

“That’s why I tried to spend a bit more one-on-one time with a few of those that had chosen to stand, just to have a chat.

“From the drivers’ point of view, I think we’re going to come closer during this period of time, not saying that everyone is going to be taking a knee, but over time, we begin to talk about this more often.

“I like to think that at some stage, we’ll all be together, understanding, taking a knee.”

In Thursday’s FIA press conference, Hamilton also revisited his ‘Black Power’ salute on the podium of the Styrian Grand Prix, a stance that mimicked the controversial gesture of black US athletes John Carlos and Tommie Smith at the Olympics games in Mexico in 1968.

At the time, the demonstration was regarded as one of the most overtly political statements in the history of the Olympics and one that went well beyond the fight against racism and injustice.

Hamilton admitted “taking a page” out of the famous American sprinters’ book last Sunday, adding that it was a moment he will never forget.

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“Racism is something that has been around for hundreds of years and currently continues,” he said.

“When you’ve got icons, people like that who’ve stood up against this battle, I just find it inspiring.

“I just took a page out of their book, realizing that I have this platform, I have this opportunity to continue to raise awareness and try and unite people, to try and educate myself but also educate other people and that was really where it came from.

“It felt like the right moment, it felt an important moment for me. I’ll never forget that moment.”

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