Hamilton warns ‘silence is complicit’ in racism as F1 drivers split over taking knee

Lewis Hamilton has told his Formula One rivals that “silence is complicit” in racism after it emerged drivers are divided over whether to take a knee before Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix.

The six-time F1 champion, the sport’s only black driver, has been a vocal campaigner against racial injustice in recent weeks following the death of George Floyd in police custody in the US.

The topic of taking a knee – a sign of support for the Black Lives Matter movement – was discussed during a virtual meeting of all 20 F1 drivers on Friday night, but they failed to reach a unanimous conclusion.

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Hamilton will line up second on the grid behind teammate Valtteri Bottas

It is expected that a number of drivers are ready to adopt the gesture for the season-opening race.

However, it is thought at least a quarter of the grid are uneasy about doing it due to the political outlook of the Black Lives Matter movement.

There is also said to be a feeling of disappointment among some drivers that Hamilton called out those who had chosen not to post an anti-racism message on social media.

“I know who you are and I see you,” Hamilton wrote last month.

Speaking on the eve of Sunday’s race, the British driver said: “We spoke a bit in the drivers’ briefing, yep, interesting.

“I don’t know what we will see… Potentially, people will pay their respects in their own way.

“I just described that silence is complicit and there is still silence in some cases.

“So, I thanked those that have said something on their social media platforms – because they have a great voice – and encouraged the others that have not, to say something.”

Great job by the team today and this man here. Look at the back of his helmet, this is a sign showing all hands together no matter your colour which I really respect. Let’s hope for a great race tomorrow 🙌🏾#AustrianGP #F1 pic.twitter.com/rgPfU5Tprr

— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) July 4, 2020

However Hamilton, 35, refused to confirm if he would take a knee, saying: “I don’t have any plans at the moment.

“I have not thought that far forward. I am sure over the course of (Saturday) evening I will.”

The F1 teams are set to leave their drivers to make up their own minds on whether to take a knee, with the gesture recently seen ahead of Premier League games when all the players took part.

Formula One’s governing body, the FIA, has said it will not instruct the drivers on what action to take.

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All drivers have agreed to wear “end racism” t-shirts when they line up for the Austrian national anthem. A banner displaying the same message will also be prominent.

Hamilton’s Mercedes team are racing in an all-black livery this year to send a defiant message against racism.

The defending F1 champion will line up second on the grid for Sunday’s race, behind teammate Valtteri Bottas who is on pole.

The Austrian Grand Prix starts at 2.10pm UK time and airs on the Sky Sports F1 channel.