Ricciardo defends F1 drivers who chose not to kneel before Austrian GP

‘I knelt… but some who didn’t were worried how it would look at home’: Daniel Ricciardo says F1 drivers who didn’t ‘take the knee’ to show solidarity with Black Lives Matter at Austrian GP were concerned with ‘what it would represent’ in their countries

  • Six Formula One drivers chose not to kneel during a Black Lives Matter protest
  • The kneel was held moments before the season opening Austrian Grand Prix
  • Renault driver Daniel Ricciardo has explained why some decided not to kneel 

Daniel Ricciardo has defended the decision made by six Formula One drivers who refused to take a knee during a Black Lives Matter anti-racism demonstration.

Ferrari’s Monegasque driver Charles LeClerc, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen from the Netherlands and 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen of Finland, were among those who refused to take a knee, moments before the season opening Austrian Grand Prix.

Australian Renault driver Ricciardo, who was one of 14 drivers including Lewis Hamilton to take a knee, has said that all of the drivers are supportive of the movement to end racism.  

A number of drivers chose not to kneel in support of Black Lives Matter before the race

Daniel Ricciardo has explained why some of his colleagues chose to take a knee

The six that did not kneel 

Antonio Giovinazzi – Alfa Romeo (Italy) 

Daniil Kvyat – Scuderia AlphaTauri (Russia)

Charles LeClerc – Ferrari (Monaco)

Kimi Raikkonen – Alfa Romeo (Finland) 

Carlos Sainz – McLaren (Spain) 

Max Verstappen – Red Bull (Netherlands)

As reported by Yahoo Sport, Ricciardo said: ‘I just think there was a little bit of difficulty with some drivers and their nationality, and what something like taking a knee would represent.

‘Obviously the reasons why we would do it is purely to support Black Lives Matter.

‘It is for nothing political or anything else… We all understood that we will do what we feel comfortable with.

‘But no one is going to be judged or criticised if they don’t stand there in a certain way or take a knee.’

McLaren’s Spaniard Carlos Sainz, Russian AlphaTauri driver Daniil Kvyat and Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi of Italy were the others not to kneel. 

Before the incident-packed race which was won by Valterri Bottas, LeClerc announced on Sunday morning that he would not be taking a knee. 

‘All 20 drivers stand united with their teams against racism and prejudice, at the same time embracing the principles of diversity, equality and inclusion, supporting Formula 1’s and FIA’s commitment,’ LeClerc said on Twitter. 

‘I believe that what matters are facts and behaviours in our daily life rather than formal gestures that could be seen as controversial in some countries. I will not take the knee but this does not mean at all that I am less committed than others in the fight against racism.’

Verstappen, who retired from the Grand Prix, also tweeted: ‘I am very committed to equality and the fight against racism. But I believe everyone has the right to express themself at a time and in a way that suits them. I will not take the knee today but respect and support the personal choices every driver makes #WeRaceAsOne #EndRacism

LeClerc finished second behind Bottas in the season opener, with British McLaren driver Lando Norris taking his first ever podium in third, ahead of Hamilton who took a penalty following a collision with Red Bull’s Alex Albon.

Lewis Hamilton said he was grateful to those who joined him in taking a knee before the race

Charles LeClerc and Max Verstappen both took to Twitter to say they wouldn’t take a knee

The season opener was won by Valterri Bottas ahead of LeClerc and McLaren’s Lando Norris

It has been reported that some drivers felt Hamilton was applying undue pressure on them to prove their anti-racism credentials. The six-time world champion has previously claimed that ‘silence is complicity’.

After the race, Hamilton said: ‘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 had a right to that choice and for me kneeling was the right thing.’

All the drivers wore ‘End Racism’ T-shirts on the grid prior to the national anthem, while the FIA, the sport’s governing body, on Sunday pledged nearly a million pounds to fight racism.

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