F1 drivers split on taking the knee as 10 opt-out of gesture

F1 drivers split on taking the knee as 10 partake in anti-racism message – including Lewis Hamilton – and 10 opt against it… while sport’s newest star Mick Schumacher dons Black Lives Matter T-shirt ahead of first race

  • The 2021 Formula One season kicked-off on Sunday, with round one in Bahrain 
  • All 20 drivers took part in F1’s ‘We Race As One’ demonstration before the start
  • However, the stars were split on taking the knee, with 10 remaining standing 
  • Mick Schumacher wore a Black Lives Matter shirt in the build-up to the race 

Formula One kicked-off its 2021 season in Bahrain with a strong anti-racism demonstration before lights-out, but from the get-go drivers were split on taking the knee.

Half of the 20 stars remained standing on a banner reading ‘We Race As One’, the title of the sport’s anti-racism campaign.

It was a much more organised affair compared to last season’s chaotic pre-race demonstrations, but the drivers are yet to agree on the core gesture.

The F1 season kicked-off on Sunday in Bahrain with the first anti-racism message of the year

Half the drivers took the knee, with the likes of Lewis Hamilton continuing to make the gesture

F1 rookie Mick Schumacher wore a Black Lives Matter shirt, and was among the 10 to kneel 

The racers who did kneel were Sebastian Vettel, Lance Stroll, Lando Norris, Daniel Ricciardo, Nicholas Latifi, George Russell, Pierre Gasly, Mick Schumacher, Sergio Perez and Lewis Hamilton. 

The Brit was seen looking along the line, and will have noticed that his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas as well as Nikita Mazepin, Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz, Kimi Raikkonen, Antonio Giovinazzi, Max Verstappen, Esteban Ocon, Yuki Tsunoda and Fernando Alonso chose to stand. 

Last season’s messy campaign was turned into an organised affair during the off-season, as it was decided drivers could make their own gestures in support of the ‘We Race As One’ effort. 

Hamilton, who campaigned for every driver to take a knee in 2020, backed the decision: ‘I don’t think it’s the most important thing for everyone to kneel.

‘It’s what we do in the background that counts, making a positive change.

‘We will see how we can work together so the sport takes more of a lead.’

Ferrari duo Charles Leclerc (left) and Carlos Sainz were among those to remain standing 

Lewis Hamilton has backed F1’s move to allow drivers to make their own gestures to support 

Ferrari driver Leclerc avoided the gesture last season too, not wanting to associated with the political side of the Black Lives Matter movement and the violent nature of some of their protests. 

However, he received backlash and accusations of racism for his stance, hitting back in a furious statement, saying: ‘I am not racist and I absolutely hate racism. 

‘Stop putting me in the same group as these disgusting people that are discriminating others.’

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