• Six drivers opt not to take the knee at Austrian GP
  • They include Charles LeClerc, Max Verstappen, and Carlos Sainz
  • Lewis Hamilton said drivers were not forced to take the knee

Formula 1 driver grid was reportedly divided following the return of the sport as several drivers, including Max Verstappen and Charles LeClerc, opted not to kneel at the beginning of the Austrian Grand Prix on Monday (July 6). F1 drivers came together at the starting line before the start of the race in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Six-time Champion and Mercedes Driver, Lewis Hamilton, has been advocating for racial awareness and inspired the creation of a diversity commission in Formula 1. He was one of the drivers that knelt at the start line while wearing a BLM t-shirt. The rest of the drivers wore t-shirts with a slogan saying, "End Racism."

Prior to the race, LeClerc posted a number of tweets that explained why he opted not to kneel with his patriots.

"I believe that what matters are facts and behaviors in our daily life rather than formal gestures that could be seen as controversial in some countries," LeClerc said in one of his tweets. "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."

According to CNN, Verstappen was of the same opinion and indicated that he is committed to equality and fighting against racism. He said it is everyone's right to express themselves in a way that is compatible with them. The Red Bull driver did not take the knee but supported every driver's personal choices.

Six drivers out of twenty opted not to kneel. The other four included Carlos Sainz, Antonio Giovinazzi, Daniil Kyvat and Kimi Raikkonen.

The stance taken by these drivers during their Black Lives Matter initiative was reportedly contradictory, considering it was less than two weeks after Formula 1 had the "We Race as One" project aimed at tackling inequality.

Hamilton, on the other hand, said that he was inspired because of the kneeling protests of Colin Kaepernick, CNN reported. Hamilton mentioned that he spoke to Kaepernick shortly after his kneeling incident. He did emphasize that there was no coercion to the other drivers to take part in kneeling at the start line.

Lewis Hamilton Pixabay