Charles Leclerc, Valtteri Bottas, Lando Norris, Red Bull Ring, 2020

Hamilton: “I never requested or demanded anyone to ‘take a knee'”

2020 F1 season

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Lewis Hamilton denied demanding rival drivers join the pre-race ‘take a knee’ protest at yesterday’s Austrian Grand Prix, stating anti-racism is a “much bigger issue” than whether individuals participate in a single gesture.

All 20 drivers wore anti-racism T-shirts on the grid and Hamilton was among the 14 who also symbolically ‘took a knee’, a gesture made famous by American football player Colin Kaepernick four years ago. However he made it clear he did not “request or demand” any of his fellow drivers join him.

Hamilton said the gesture was suggested by two other drivers, one of which was Sebastian Vettel, who like Hamilton raced with a ‘Black Lives Matter’ slogan on his helmet. All 20 drivers wore anti-racism T-shirts during the pre-race ceremony, and Hamilton said he was comfortable with others choosing not to take a knee.

“Honestly I don’t know everyone’s different reasons or opinions,” he said after yesterday’s race. “I am aware of some opinions from some of the drivers but that’s more a private thing and I wouldn’t like to share. But I think ultimately nobody should be forced to into a scenario where they have to kneel.”

Hamilton dismissed claims he had attempted to coerce drivers into ‘taking a knee’.

F1 drivers take a knee, Red Bull Ring, 2020
Most F1 drivers take a knee before Austrian GP
“There is a story, at least one out there, that is really incorrect,” he said. “I never requested or demanded anybody to take the knee. I never even brought it up.

“It was brought up by Formula 1 and it was brought up by the GPDA [Grand Prix Drivers’ Association]. When we did the drivers’ briefing Seb and [Romain] Grosjean both brought it up and asked the drivers whether or not they would do it.

“There were obviously several that said they wouldn’t. And I let everyone just say what they wanted to say and I just opened up to them and said ‘look guys, just so you know, I will be doing it, but you do what you feel is right’.

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“I’m really, really grateful for those who did kneel along with me. I think it’s still a really powerful message.

“But ultimately whether you kneel or do not kneel, that’s not going to change the world. It’s a much, much bigger issue across the world than just something as little as that. But for me, personally, I think everyone had a right to their own personal choice and for me personally, that was what I felt was right to do. But I didn’t make the decision until last night.”

Drivers take a knee, Red Bull Ring, 2020
Vettel and Grosjean proposed ‘taking a knee’, said Hamilton
Hamilton distanced himself from any political connotation in the Black Lives Matter movement, stressing he supports it solely from an anti-racism perspective:

“There are certain people that are speaking about it and making it more political than it is. Then there are obviously, I think it’s London Black Lives Matter or the UK Black Lives Matter that have spoken on some more political issues.

“But I think the people that are at the rallies, the people out there marching, are fighting for one cause, and that’s for the equality. And it’s not a political thing, necessarily. I think for them, that’s what I went to London, that’s what they’re out there doing. When I wear the shirt, when I speak out, that’s what I’m supporting. I’m not supporting necessarily the political movements. That’s something completely different. So I think it’s important to try and keep it separate.”

In 2017, following earlier anti-racism protests, Hamilton indicated he was considering ‘taking a knee’ at the United States Grand Prix. He did not go through with it, but yesterday admitted he regretted not being more vocal in his condemnation of racism sooner.

“This all started with Colin Kaepernick in the NFL,” he said. “I think he sat down for the national anthem and he got a lot of backlash. And then he spoke to someone, I can’t remember who it is he spoke to, his team boss or something like that, and they suggested to take the knee.

“I thought that was a really powerful statement that he made. And then he lost his job. And didn’t get his job back. And he was a great athlete.

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“I’d actually spoken to him a couple of years ago, shortly after that before the US Grand Prix and I had a helmet and everything made in red with his number on the top. But back then I was kind of silenced, I was told to back down, don’t support it. Which I would say that I regret.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Red Bull Ring, 2020
Hamilton will keep promoting anti-racism campaigns
“So it was important for me to make sure that during this period of time I did my part.”

Hamilton said he intends to keep the campaign in the spotlight over the coming weeks. He has not decided whether he will continue to ‘take a knee’, but said he does not intend to do so during performances of national anthems.

“Whether [I’ll] continue to take a knee, I don’t know if there’s going to be opportunities to do that. I definitely don’t want to do that on national anthems.

“But I would say definitely the background, I’ll continue to support, continue to try to improve my education on the situation, hopefully encourage others.

“I really don’t want it to be the case of people feeling forced. I want people to be excited to be a part of the change and want to encourage people to really take notice and think ‘I’ve been so fortunate to not have experienced racism, but I can try to understand what it must feel like and I don’t want people to feel that way, I don’t want my kids to feel that way’. So I want to be part of the change in the future. Our kids can lead a better life quality. And that’s really what it’s all about.”

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2020 F1 season

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53 comments on “Hamilton: “I never requested or demanded anyone to ‘take a knee'””

  1. We’ll have to see if all these BLM statements doesn’t mean less focus on racing by Hamilton. If Bottas wins two out of the two first races, the championship may turn out to be more exciting than expected.

    1. I don’t think it’s affected his focus. Bottas has generally been quicker than him here, and in qualifying the gap was only 0.012s. I do hope that the championship is less one-sided this year though.

    2. Hamilton has been supporting BLM ever since it became very public a few years ago. And based his performances over the years….

    3. @patrick
      It has been recent history for Lewis to start the seasons slow, and build into form. This is not the first season opener Bottas has won (Bottas has had a tendency to start strong, but fades), and nowhere near the first season opener where Lewis has found trouble. The problem this year is we already know several races won’t take place, and there is no telling how many races to come will actually happen….drivers could become sick, or team members, and drivers may be forced to sit out races because of that. In a shortened season, days like today will hurt Lewis more than in normal circumstances.

      1. The things though, this season opener wasn’t the regular Australia one. And the following races aren’t Bahrain and others. Next week Bottas takes a thirteen point lead into the second race… at the same circuit. One he likes a lot apparently. Thus comparisons with previous seasons actually have little value.

    4. hamilton isn’t very good at this track. lost to rosberg 2 times, won the 3rd time on the last lap.
      underperformed next to bottas in ’17 and last year.

      at least he’ll have 2 races in Silverstone to make up for this.

  2. Didn’t realise Merc’s DAS had a backpedal mode…

    1. ???
      You might be the most confused man in your neighborhood.

  3. Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, Inc. is actually not a nonprofit entity, they had a fiscal sponsorship with a nonprofit but it isn’t a 501(c)3.

    US Democratic payment system ActBlue change of 3.95% from every donations. Not even Open Secret Org. knew who the owner of BLM global was and where the money all celebrities donate went to.

    So, yes. Unlike ‘End Racism’, ‘Black Lives Matter’ clearly is political message.

    1. ColdFly (@)
      6th July 2020, 9:37

      @ruliemaulana, rather than convincing yourself you’re right based on the incorpration of a certain entity, you should talk (and listen) to a few people who brandish Black Lives Matter placards.
      They don’t care about which entity is incorporated where; they stand up against racism, prejudice, inequality and police brutality.

      If somebody were to incorporate Rulie Maulana Foundation Inc, would that make you less of a person, and make you merely a political movement?

      1. They’ll do everything in their power to ignore the actual message

        1. Precisely. Ignorance is funny that way. When you’re that dumb, you really can’t help yourself.

      2. @coldfly I’ve never seen so many support of black activists to Malcolm X view about white liberal. Maybe you should try to leave your bubble every once in a while.

        1. For once I agree with you @ruliemaulana. Maybe we should leave our bubble.

          So let’s talk about what it is that you want. I’ve heard you speak out often against our movements to fight racism and inequality. But what is YOUR movement? What is it that you would want change in the world? I’m not being facetious, I’m genuinely willing to try to understand.

          1. @gongtong It’s not about colour. This is the second time you asked what should we do. I don’t know if you cared about the answer.

          2. @ruliemaulana I missed yesterday’s reply. Sorry.

            Your point was that the human race should not be divided by colour? That that is a social construct and unimportant? Which is precisely the argument here. I can’t see any reason to disagree.

            But as it stands, all of the evidence I see is that racism is affecting non-white people by a staggering ratio. I’m happy to welcome evidence to the contrary, I’ve actively searched for it, but without it it seems you’re agreeing with the cause in question.

          3. @gongtong Racism is affected different color on different region. That’s why I appreciate ‘End Racism’ more than ‘Black Lives Matter’. Its a good and inclusive message.

          4. @ruliemaulana I get that, but it’s really an aside isn’t it? It’s a detraction. Mexicans, Indians, Asians, etc aren’t making a huge argument for inclusivity, are they? Only whites. BAME groups recognise that although the wording MAY be specific, that it’s a message they can support.

            I have to admit, when I (a white guy, if you’d not guessed) first heard it I got triggered too. But when I get triggered I take a deep breath, remember my privilege, and try to understand. Because I support the end goal of equality, I support the message.

            Out of interest, which region are you in? I’m in the UK, here there is no question that whites need no extra help. I struggle to think of anywhere that they do.

          5. @gongtong As a brown-ish, because I’m asian but sometime I think I had darker skin than Lewis, I should say: No. You don’t inherited any sin just because you’re white.

          6. No. But you inherit privilege. And if you deny it then you’re part of the problem. It’s unfortunate, but that’s how it is. And to bring about equality those of us with that privilege need to fight it.

            We need to be careful getting distracted by the linguistic inclusive of the “All Lives Matter” slogan. It wasn’t born out of a desire to end privilege. It was born out of a desire to undermine the struggle of black (and brown) people in societies where they are still treated differently.

    2. @ruliemaulana Please explain how wanting to end oppression and police brutality is “political”.

      Do you think the summary execution of someone because of the colour of their skin is a valid political view, and that opposing it is merely a political opinion?

      1. @fluxsource No, you tell me how ‘one colour-lives-matter’ had anything to do with ending oppression and police brutality? There’s white, black, yellow and brown cops that abetting and aiding murder of Flynn.

        1. @ruliemaulana Because it’s mainly Black lives that are being lost due to a militarised and unrestrained police force, which little to no consequnces for the murderers. Black people are being treated as if their lives don’t matter.

          It’s really not that complicated.

          1. @fluxsource If black lives really matter, why the movement killed black cop, burn black business and killed black teenager in autonomous zone? No clear agenda about blacks or police brutalities. All blacks should condemn this rotten power grab political movement.

          2. @ruliemaulana Your level of ignorance must take actual effort to maintain.

          3. @fluxsource LoL. I was the one who bring facts not just righteousness.

    3. 100% right and sorry you are being called a racist because of it. But it is sad that there is a hidden agenda behind BLM and anyone who says so gets called out and gets the racist card applied to them. End racism I can totally get behind as should every human, even Lewis has said he isn’t behind the political message of BLM so maybe he too should switch to the unbranded End Racism slogan.

      1. my previous message was for @ruliemaulana

      2. Thanks @dubsix. And yes, ‘End Racism’ give a clearer target and certainly not divisive.

  4. I think most people can tell the difference between someone who is politically motivated by the BLM organisation, and the vast majority who believe that black lives do actually matter. Then again their are those who refuse to acknowledge any difference between the two because it suits their own political agenda.

    But I’m happy for someone to convince me that BLM USA and the St Albans Cathedral BLM group for instance are one and the same, with the same goals and aspirations.

  5. Jack (@jackisthestig)
    6th July 2020, 9:30

    I imagine Lewis hasn’t ‘educated himself’ on this topic but most F1 fans earn a modest wage. The tax man then helps himself to a big chunk of the money before most of the rest gets spent on a mortgage or rent. If you’re lucky, your local Mercedes dealership may have convinced you you can afford one of their monstrosities on finance and don’t even mention the cost of 3 days camping at Silverstone to watch the Grand Prix every year.

    After all that you might just have enough left over to pay for a Sky Sports F1 subscription in the hope of 2 hours light relief every other Sunday afternoon watching the sport you love. People pay to watch F1 for entertainment not for a lecture from Lewis on how awful and privileged they are!

    1. I disagree.

      An international sport like F1 is the perfect means of conveying a strong message on a subject like this.

      Note that F1 has also gone with ‘End Racism’ as its message rather than BLM. Calling for the end of racism is hardly a controversial sentiment, is it?

      I don’t hear people complaining about the anti drink-driving messages that appear on-screen and around the circuit during F1 races.

      1. Jack (@jackisthestig)
        6th July 2020, 9:56

        Those messages are only there to justify Heineken sponsorship.

        1. And?

          So people are happy with a message that supports a beer sponsor but not one that aims to end racism?

          1. The real irony is F1 claiming they support equality at a race sponsored by Aramco. It does come across a bit disingenuous on their part, although that doesn’t influence the impact of the drivers’ support which I think is more important than the organisation. But yeah, if F1 really wants us to believe that they support Lewis and the drivers, maybe let’s not have races sponsored by a Saudi energy company.

          2. “Calling for the end of racism is hardly a controversial sentiment, is it?”

            Personally I’m really happy that my sport has positioned itself here. I tuned in and enjoyed the race, AND saw a show of unity. Win/win.

          3. @hugh11 I’ve been told that its called virtue signalling?

    2. F1 is a sport of elitists no matter the majority of fans so this is the perfect platform to send the message to them that run corporations and even small businesses.

    3. This is an embarrassingly stupid take. Did Lewis not take part in FP1, FP2, FP3, qualifying and the race? Did he not, almost singlehandedly, give the stewards enough to do over the weekend? What part of his obligation to your entertainment did he not fulfill? Did the one-track action not generate enough reports and press commentary for you to focus on exclusively if you so wish? Oh please!

      1. I watched the same as you. Hamilton gave an interview at Skys request on BLM and his Commission. Pretty easy to miss as it was advertised for a particular time if someone didnt want to watch. And he got a similar amount of air time as some other drivers on the issue of racism. And far far less than the various Sky pundits giving their opinions on the matter.
        Seems to me his problem is with Sky, not a particular driver. But on the bright side I’m sure Croft and the team will soon be back talking about how much they ate the night before , how hot it was, and how certain things are funny about the locals and their accents.

  6. Just a minute. Didn’t Hamilton post that he “ knows who you are” about other drivers he saw as not supporting his politics, and have a couple of rants about how he was always treated and push Mercedes into the rather unsettling all black car and uniform?

    And hasn’t he been walking around the paddock with a chain and padlock round his neck?

    No Lewis, of course you haven’t been pressuring people.

    1. Jack (@jackisthestig)
      6th July 2020, 9:51

      Yes, that does ring a bell.

    2. Yes he did and he also clarified that his comment was not aimed at anyone specific and left it open to interpretation. So judging by your reply, that’s how you interpreted it.

    3. Those are different situations. Asking his fellow F1’ers to stand with the cause doesn’t mean, “you should kneel.”

      I think it’s pretty clear that he recognizes that there are many ways of showing public support.

      I’m sure many of them are quietly participating as well, but it’s important to show it to encourage the less brave

      Backlash is part of the sacrifice, but it’s not for everyone.

    4. Anti-racism isn’t politics – it’s being a decent human being. Here he was specifically talking about asking people to kneel. There are plenty of ways to be an ally to the oppressed, but staying slient isn’t one of them. THAT is what Lewis was calling out before.

      Also: the new livery looks awesome.

      1. Yea, odd that. Most think the car looks stunning, but unsettling? Strange way to describe how a car looks?

    5. That’s LH being utterly LH.
      Shouldn’t detract from the message… I didn’t hear or see anything from any of the drivers or players, including FOM that wasn’t reasonable and well worth consideration.

    6. Fred Fedurch
      6th July 2020, 22:50

      ^—– this.

  7. This is an embarrassingly stupid take. Did Lewis not take part in FP1, FP2, FP3, qualifying and the race? Did he not, almost singlehandedly, give the stewards enough to do over the weekend? What part of his obligation to your entertainment did he not fulfill? Did the one-track action not generate enough reports and press commentary for you to focus on exclusively if you so wish? Oh please!

  8. Michael Rochester
    6th July 2020, 15:04

    What we are seeing here is Peer Pressure in its crudest form …. I’ve always resisted it whenever it raised it’s ugly head, so I would support those that didn’t ‘take the knee’. Their alternate stance does not necessarily mean that they are racist, white supremacist, or oppose the BAME community, it’s just they, like me, don’t care to be told how to think by “virtue signallers”.

  9. Yet here you are, virtue signalling that you have virtue by opposing something. You made your opposition look shallow by virtue signalling your more sophisticated level. Or in plain English-you are only saying that to make yourself look good. You can climb up to your moral high ground now.

  10. F1 used to be a meritocracy, unlike any other. Until the new American owner’s white guilt allowed Lewis Hamilton’s snowflake mentality to change it.

    No Lewis, you did not demand or coerce anyone to take a knee. You just went online put on the biggest victim hat you could find, and cried:
    “Woe is me, I am the only black man in a sport full of whites, and nobody understands what that’s like”.

    Formula 1 was the last place I ever looked for for racism since I was 10 years old. This is the most competitive sport when it comes to driver talent and engineering, any team that made any of their choices with anything other than performance in mind did not become successful.

    but since identity politics are now a part of the sport, lets pose some important questions:
    – Look at pictures of Hamilton next to Ricciardo, is Lewis Hamilton even black enough to understand the plight of actually dark blacks? Lewis Hamilton is white passing, has he ever aknowledged this privilege of his?
    – He doesnt even live in the US, what does he know about the plight of the american minorities.
    – He has made a career and become a multi millionaire in one of the most privileged sports on the planet. Not only that, has been one of the most privileged drivers in the history of the sport enjoying the backing of McLaren since he was 13 years old! Speaking of which, anyone here know of other rookie made his debut at a top team in his debut season?
    -…and lets not forget the whole Panama tax evasion thingy. Lewis Hamilton is a rich elitist that evades paying any and all taxes, and will use any remotely legal accounting method to achieve this goal. Did I say tax evasion, I meant tax planning, silly me.

    The pack of wolves will come for Hamilton sooner or later. These identity politics people never fail to eat each other alive, and Lewis put himself on the menu.

    1. I forgot to add:
      Sincerely, an immigrant to his home country. Who was bullied, socially shunned, and called a mud face at school every day of his life until he was 18 years old.

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