Nobody should be forced to take a knee, says Hamilton

Six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton has said he will be taking the knee again at the next race which is also scheduled to take place at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg on July 12.

The Mercedes driver, however, also stated that he won’t force his fellow drivers to do the same and is prepared to keep speaking out on the issue.

Before the first race of the revamped calendar, the F1 drivers on Sunday sent out a powerful message in their fight against racism as they took the knee and also wore black t-shirts which had the message – ‘End Racism’ and ‘Black Lives Matter’.

However, six drivers, namely Charles Leclerc, Max Verstappen, Carlos Sainz, Daniil Kvyat, Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi didn’t kneel but stood together in solidarity with the movement.

“Awareness has been raised over the last few weeks. We don’t need it to die a silent death with no change,” Hamilton said after the race as per Daily Mail.

“I can be the guinea pig and keep speaking out. But nobody should be forced into a scenario where they have to kneel.

“I am really grateful to those who did it along with me. It is a powerful message, but whether you kneel or do not kneel, it is not going to change the world. It is a bigger issue than that.

“Everyone has a right to that choice and for me kneeling was the right thing,” he added.

Hamilton, however, didn’t get off to the best of starts in his title defence as he finished fourth in the Austrian GP with teammate Valtteri Bottas taking the first place. Hamilton was handed a five-second time penalty that dropped him from second place.

The Mercedes pair of Bottas and Hamilton enjoyed a comfortable performance advantage throughout the 71-lap encounter.

It was only in the last 10 laps that the race burst into life, with Hamilton handed his penalty after nerfing Albon into a spin on a Safety Car restart on Lap 61.

Charles Leclerc finished second for Ferrari with McLaren’s Lando Norris taking his first podium.