They failed to federate the entire paddock. 14 of the 20 drivers, including the Briton Lewis Hamilton wearing a Black Lives Matter t-shirt, put a knee on the ground in support of the fight against racism before the start of the Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday . All the others were dressed in t-shirts with the words “end racism”. It was left to the pilots to express their commitment to this in the manner of their choice.
Dutch Max Verstappen (Red Bull), Monegasque Charles Leclerc (Ferrari), Spaniard Carlos Sainz Jr, Russian Daniil Kvyat (AlphaTauri), Italian Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo) and Finnish Kimi Räikkönen (Alfa Romeo) remained standing.
"I think the important thing is everyday facts and behaviors more than formal gestures that could be perceived as controversial in certain countries," Leclerc explained on Instagram. I will not put my knees on the ground but that does not mean that I am less committed than the others in the fight against racism. "
"I think everyone has the right to express themselves when and how they want," Verstappen said on Twitter. I will not kneel down but I respect and support the personal choices of each driver. "
"A sport dominated by whites"
In June, Lewis Hamilton sharply criticized the attitude of his discipline after the death of George Floyd in the United States. "Nobody moves a finger in my sport which is of course dominated by white people," said the Briton on Instagram. I am one of the only people of color there, I am still alone. Words that annoyed some of his rivals.
"Lewis did not necessarily delight us when he said that the world of Formula 1 was not following him," said Frenchman Romain Grosjean at the microphone of Canal +. He isolated himself a bit by criticizing the others for not being do enough. The Mercedes sports a black livery this season to support the Black Lives Matter movement and the fight against racism. The paddock and the single-seaters are adorned this weekend with rainbows in tribute to the struggles against racism but also against the Covid-19.
The promoter of F1 has also set up an action to increase diversity in the sport, very white and very masculine, to which the FIA announced to contribute financially this Sunday. The start of the inaugural GP of the 2020 season, at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, was given at 3.10 p.m. with the Finn Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) in pole position.
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The season should have started in mid-March in Australia but was delayed by the new coronavirus pandemic. It begins, at a minimum, with a series of eight races in Europe until early September, for the hour behind closed doors and following a strict sanitary protocol.