F1 drivers discuss taking a knee at Austrian GP


McLaren’s Lando Norris says Formula 1 drivers have discussed ‘taking a knee’ at the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix this weekend.

The gesture is a symbol of support for the Black Lives Matter movement and the struggle for racial equality.

Britain’s Norris, 20, said: “If we are going to do it, we should all do it as a grid.

“We will do whatever we can to show we care and respect everyone. We will do what is right when the time comes.”

World champion Lewis Hamilton has increased his interventions on the subject of racial equality since the issue was brought to the fore by
global protests following the death of African American George Floyd in May, after a police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Hamilton, F1’s first black driver, has started his own commission to promote minority involvement in motorsport, and the sport’s owners have launched their own diversity and quality drive.

Hamilton’s Mercedes team have changed the colour scheme of their cars from silver to black for this season as a symbol of their support for diversity and opposition to racism.

Norris fellow Briton George Russell, who drives for Williams, said: “Lewis has been very strong in his thoughts and words and he is absolutely right to do so. It has opened a lot of our eyes up to a greater issue in the world and if it’s something that doesn’t affect you personally, you don’t necessarily know some of the issues. So it is something we have to support. F1 needs to be more diverse. It is a very white-dominated sport. Lewis has created a lot of awareness which is great and we will be standing there not only supporting him but also supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.”

Like Hamilton, Norris will carry the message ‘End Racism’ on his car this season, and he has recently encouraged followers on social media
to sign petitions.

Norris said: “I want to do better than any other driver, but everyone should be given the same opportunity and treated the same.

“It is not fair that people get treated differently because of their race.

“This sport reaches millions of people and the more we can do as drivers, teams and as a community in Formula 1, the bigger impact we can have.”

The season, which has been on ice since the Australian Grand Prix was cancelled in March as a result of the coronavirus crisis, starts with three races on consecutive weekends, two at Austria’s Red Bull Ring on 3-5 and 10-12 July, followed by the Hungaroring on 17-19 July.

All will be held behind closed doors and with a series of protocols in place to minimise the risks involving Covid-19.

Norris said: “I will be in a bubble, speaking to and interacting with as few people as I need to. I have pretty much spent the last three months on my own so I am used to it. We will have people on standby and people on back-up to jump into different roles if people fall ill. But we all want to be here until the final race in December so we will take the precautions to make sure we can continue doing our job.”

Reported by: Vincent Paul

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