Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Hungaroring, 2020

Leclerc explains furious response to racism claims on social media

2020 70th Anniversary Grand Prix

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Charles Leclerc has hit back strongly against “disgusting” accusations of racism which he says have been made against him on social media.

Leclerc said he has been the focus of criticism as he is among a group of drivers who have not joined the majority of their rivals in ‘taking a knee’ before the start of races.

“It is very sad to see how some people manipulate my words to make headlines making me sound like a racist,” he stated on social media. “I am not racist and I absolutely hate racism. Racism is disgusting.

“Stop putting me in the same group as these disgusting people that are discriminating others because of their skin colour, religion or gender. I’m not part of them and I never will. I’ve always been respectful to everyone and that should be the standard in today’s world.

“And to whoever is using my image to promote their wrong ideas, please stop. I’m not into politics and I don’t want to be involved in that.”

Speaking in today’s FIA press conference, Leclerc said he wrote the posts “because I just don’t want to be judged any more.

“As I’ve said many times I’m quite active on social media and I just do not accept to be called the way I’ve been called in the last few weeks, negatively obviously, just because of not kneeling. I just wanted to make a straightforward Tweet just to express my feelings and that’s it.”

At last weekend’s British Grand Prix Kevin Magnussen, who previously joined other drivers in taking a knee, chose not to. He said he wanted to distance himself from the Black Lives Matter movement.

“I want to make sure that with the messaging of ending racism that I support that movement and not any sort of political organisation that I think the Black Lives Matter movement is,” he said.

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“So I kind of just want to separate myself from that and then push on with the ‘ending racism’ and that messaging, which I think is great that Formula 1 is doing and that all of the drivers are supporting. So I’m just joining that. That’s what I said before the second Austrian Grand Prix and that’s the way I’ll continue to do.”

Lewis Hamilton, who has championed the Black Lives Matter cause within Formula 1, said he does not believe discussions over whether drivers do or do not take the knee have been a distraction from the drivers’ stance against racism.

“I don’t think so,” he said. “I’m not watching, I’m not seeing it, I’m in it. I’m not seeing it from the outside so I don’t have the same perspective as everybody else.

“But I’d like to think that just that we’re doing something and we are together in it is the most important thing.

“Of course you look at the other sports and most sports have ‘Black Lives Matter’ tops on, pretty much when I look at football teams, all teams, no matter what nationality they are, all take the knee. But then you see in basketball there’s some that don’t, you see in baseball some that don’t, it doesn’t mean that they’ve not united.”

However he said not everyone appreciates the significance of the gesture of taking a knee. “I think it is ultimately down to personal choice and you can’t force people into doing things.

“But I think it is a time where we can continue to educate each other and help people to understand what that symbol actually means. Because I think there’s a lot of people that don’t really know what it means and I think that’s something we’ll all learn.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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43 comments on “Leclerc explains furious response to racism claims on social media”

  1. I hope all drivers have 19 other drivers supporting them in whatever way they decide to oppose racism.

  2. When will people stop making such a fuss out of this whole kneeling-thing like it’d be the end of the world?

    1. Not soon I am afraid…..

  3. Not speaking up shouldn’t equate to supporting racism.
    This culture of “if you do nothing then you’re part of the problem” in F1 has to end.
    But not taking a knee isn’t racism.
    Not standing on a crate and yelling with a megaphone against the existing systemic racism shouldn’t result in harassment.
    Yes racism exists. It can deny opportunities to those who are disenfranchised.
    Would I take a knee ? – 100% yes
    But we need allies in every direction and calling out people and humiliating them isn’t the way.

    1. “ This culture of “if you do nothing then you’re part of the problem” in F1 has to end.”

      I agree, but unfortunately it’s more than just the F1 world. You have some very vocal activists preaching “silence = violence”, which obviously it isn’t but makes for a good slogan.

    2. I 100% agree with you, I would take the knee but I won’t get mad at others that don’t

    3. It is the sort of issue with this that everybody knows but few are willing to say because it can backfire massively. Especially among the drivers whose actions in social media are closely watched by all kinds of people with different motives. There is a big group of people who are looking for the tiniest dings in your armor just so they can label you racist and then attack you. These people are openly foul, disrespectful and underhanded but claim to be on the “right side” of the argument. Maybe they are but their methods are not.

      Because of all this I can understand magnussen’s stance. If you kneel you are not just supporting to end racism but you are also supporting this group of social media vigilantes and their actions. Statements are typically clearer whereas gestures and slogans can change meaning or have more different meanings attached to them over time or when situations change. Kneeling as a gesture is not just about ending racism. It is a complex gesture with a lot and lot of social pressure and coercion behind it that is also anti-police and pro-blm. And by being pro-blm it also supports the goals, ideals and practices of that movement. Both on paper and on the streets and in the social media.

      And more meaning is being added for various reasons as time goes on. But the kneeling is also a sign of support of this social media coercion that is being orchestrated by lewis through media. Every weekend we talk more about who kneeled and who didn’t and much less is talked about the actual issues. We talk more about blm than we talk about ending racism. I don’t know if these different goals can even be separated. But if you kneel it can feel like signing an empty wager where the terms and conditions are filled afterwards. But if you don’t do it you may be labelled as racist. I don’t think it is hard to understand why people who support ending racism may have reservations about it.

      1. Well if you are watching F1 on British TV or a Sky broadcast then it will obviously be more about BLM than ‘end racism’.

    4. Especially when said “non-kneeler” is wearing a shirt that says “End Racism” and has quite clearly shown his support for the cause in interviews. It’s times like this I’m glad I’m not a public figure…

      1. Agreed. I kneel for God , I ‘d feel uncomfortable kneeling for anything else but respect and support the cause for equality

  4. The topic of whether drivers kneel or not is not a distraction from the central theme, it is a catalyst. My view is that if there was a unified kneeling approach first up then all would be much quieter than it is now. The will-they-won’t-they narrative is really giving this legs.

    Going on any sport website, you now only get links to stories where individuals DO NOT kneel unless there is something original or spontaneous over and above what people are now expecting to see.

  5. Wearing a T Shirt with a message on it does not make you a good person.

    Doing what everyone else is doing because everyone is doing it does not make you a good person.

    I applaud and (think I) understand what this is about but shaming people like this is just going back to “Stone The Heretic” type days.
    We need to talk to and understand each other.

    I can debate this further ;)

    1. @nullapax BLM is and always has been a specific idea that black people are unfairly targeted by members of the police in the United States.

      It is not about anything other than that. It is not about racism except the racism inside the police force across the United States. In fact, it is not even just basic racism, it is about the violent type of racism that cops have when they choose to shoot or beat a black offender.

      BLM itself also has nothing to do with improving anything at all about black lives, whatsoever. It is seriously just a political argument against cops, much like PETA is an organization that is against bad pet owners.

  6. Do your research on Black Lives Matter before you decide on way or another.

  7. Jose Lopes da Silva
    6th August 2020, 19:41

    Charles, don’t kneel.

    Show up with a t-shirt of the face of Abraham Lincoln or Martin Luther King. We could all agree that they’re not symbols of violence. (I guess.)

    1. While Honest Abe was on the whole a pretty good POTUS (imho), you can’t say he was a pacifist

      1. Blackscorpion
        7th August 2020, 0:51

        While MLK was the godfather and the face of the Civil Rights movement, you can’t say he was a loyal spouse

      2. Jose Lopes da Silva
        7th August 2020, 7:34

        I don’t. But if people have a problem with BLM’s ‘violence’, I suppose Lincoln could go better, as he did not fire the first shot.

        Unless people are real hippie pacifists (and those don’t usually have these issues about racism) or Lost Cause Southerners, which I’m pretty sure Leclerc is not.

    2. I’m not sure which USA history you’ve read (the portrayal of key historical figures, including those two, is very different depending on source material)… …but neither Abraham nor Martin Luther King is an uncontroversial symbol of non-violence (“A People’s History of the USA” is a book that has more detail regarding those ambiguities). Even Mahatma Ghandi (who is an uncontroversial figure of non-violent resistance, as far as I can tell) is on record as preferring violent resistance over submission – his reputation was earned because he successfully took a third option. An option that it is not yet clear is feasible with the current police brutality situation, let alone the wider black empowerment movement.

      That discussion is a can of worms that the F1 grid is reluctant to open. Forcing them to do so may well make the FIA invoke Article 1 of the Statutes and bar the drivers from participating in any further anti-racism (barring specifically-sanctioned performative gestures). I’m not convinced those doing the forcing realise this.

    3. Abraham Lincoln was a white supremacist, actually. He was against slavery, but believed that whites and blacks are inherently different and can only live together with one above the other, which he wanted to be whites.

      As for MLK, a teacher was already fired at a US university for reciting a MLK speech, so it is probably only a matter of time before the far left tears down his statues. His ideal of race-blindness is considered to be racist by many woke people.

  8. Charly, if you want to know who’s behind it, just look at grid spot #1

  9. Welcome to Hamilton’s world. You are a rising star on social media which means you have a target on your back. And whilst you are getting abuse for not kneeling the other up and coming social media star Lando Norris has been abused for months for standing up to racism. And by this time next year you will be getting abuse for something else.
    You can understand why Seb says he has no desire to share his private life with millions of strangers.

  10. Hamilton’s tactic working like a charm. Pushing the kneeling thing and questioning the motives of those who don’t do it, feed his army of trolls who will wind them up in the worst way.

    1. Lewis said that he’d love to have everyone take a knee together. He didn’t question Charles’ motives.

      When asked by a reporter if nationality or culture mattered (such as with Kyvat), he pointed out examples of other folks – which included Russians – who has chosen to take a knee. Didn’t question Daniil’s motive, just responded to a question.

      Lewis is very often quoted without context.

      1. No. His message couldn’t be clearer.

        “I’m not going to tell you what my opinion on whether or not everyone needs to or not,” he said. “But if you look at all the other sports, look at basketball, you look at football and Spanish teams, Italian teams, teams all over the world, no matter what nationality or mixture they are, they’re all doing it united. You’ve got players from Russia you’ve got players from Spain.” https://www.racefans.net/2020/08/03/hamilton-challenges-rivals-reasons-for-not-taking-a-knee/

        Same with pretending it’s all about unity and respect when it’s obviously the opposite. Like I said, a clever ruse to distract his rivals by getting them stamped as racists. I bet it’s taking quite a toll already. Leclerc seems properly upset, which can’t be an ideal way to prepare for a weekend and I’m sure it’s getting to main rival Verstappen too.

        About Hamilton being quoted out of context, what’s more normal is his fans trying to distort what he’s actually said.

        1. @balue Like Daniel said, he simply answered a question about people’s motives for not kneeling and that he thinks those should not be an issue.

          Or as he says it in the article above:

          “I think it is ultimately down to personal choice and you can’t force people into doing things.

          “But I think it is a time where we can continue to educate each other and help people to understand what that symbol actually means. Because I think there’s a lot of people that don’t really know what it means and I think that’s something we’ll all learn.”

          1. I rest my case

  11. This is a very clear example of the dictatorship of political correctness, what is happening with Charles is disastrous and we should strongly reject it.
    …really, don’t you realize? That’s how totalitarianism works… .if you don’t kneel = you’re racist.
    They are already attacking Charles, for making the decision not to kneel, it is absurd.
    I criticize Lewis for wanting to force a situation, forcing all drivers to kneel, and whoever does not, we are already seeing what the consequences are, you will be persecuted and pointed out as racist, just for making the decision to do not kneel.
    Charles is not a racist, and they are already pointing it out, he is a shame to those who support this Black live matters movement.
    Black live matters supports dictatorships like Venezuela, …Lewis and all those who support this movement support dictatorships?
    100% I would not kneel.
    I support Charles and all drivers who do not kneel.
    All lives matter.

    1. Black Lives Matter is a decentralised movement it doesn’t have official policies:

      slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/06/george-floyd-global-leaderless-movements.html

    2. Jose Lopes da Silva
      7th August 2020, 7:42

      Replying “all lives matter” would look silly if it was told to someone saying “people with disabilites matter”.
      Somehow, it seems ok to be told towards “black lives matter”.
      The message is clear: there is no special issue concerning black lives.

      I have an opinion about what this thinking is and means, but I won’t say it, as it would be politically incorrect and @luis would get highly offended by it. Let’s respect people’s opinions.

  12. The more I think about this, the more I think the end racism protest is more suitable to the current climate. This drive should take into consideration the BAME community as a whole with relation to F1, Black lives included.

    The BLM protests are very very important and I support them, but the end racism message seems more all encompassing and actually more appropriate.

  13. It’s becoming a litmus test. If you don’t do this ONE thing, then, by default, you are racist. How sad.

    1. This is how authoritarianism works. If you don’t bend your knees to their entire will, then you will be punished.

  14. This is getting tiresome.

    1. This is turning into war…

  15. Never ever back down or oppogise to the constantly ‘oppressed’ sjw far left drones!

  16. What happens now that it has been proven that Floyd didnt die because of police brutality?

    1. Where has it been proven that his death was not because of police brutality? I can’t find anything on that online.

  17. But I think it is a time where we can continue to educate each other and help people to understand what that symbol actually means. Because I think there’s a lot of people that don’t really know what it means and I think that’s something we’ll all learn.

    I would like to know too, the meaning behind taking the knee. Wasn’t it done during the American anthem in America to signify that they don’t want to stand before that flag with all the racism going on?

    How does that apply to F1 anyway? I think standing is fine. The bigger question is the drivers who don’t want to be infolved at all, not that I care either way…

  18. Leclerc explains furious response to racism claims on social media
    Charles Leclerc has hit back strongly against “disgusting” accusations of racism which he says have been made against him on social media.

    This is the kind of journalism that Leclerc fight against. He clearly said he was very sad to see how some people manipulate his words and he didn’t the disgusted with the accusations but the racism it self.

    1. Journalists act immoral, as it is outrage that feeds them. They pretend to be superior to those they supposedly hold to account, but their own profession and culture is toxic.

  19. Great character this Leclerc fella’ has. I mean it. An individual with a personality, so rare. He said enough, end of story.

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