July 4 (Reuters) - Formula One drivers are united in the fight against racism but will each take their own stance ahead of Sunday’s season-opening Austrian Grand Prix, the body representing them said in a statement.
The Grand Prix Drivers’ Association (GPDA) said the drivers had held several virtual meetings to agree how best to show collective support at the Red Bull Ring.
“All 20 drivers stand united with their teams against racism and prejudice, at the same time embracing the principles of diversity, equality and inclusion and supporting Formula One’s commitment to these,” it added.
“Together the drivers will all show their public support for this cause on Sunday ahead of the race, recognising and respecting that each individual has the freedom to show their support for ending racism in their own way and will be free to choose how to do this.”
Frenchman Romain Grosjean, who races for the U.S-owned Haas team, told reporters on Friday he planned to take a knee before the start.
“I wasn’t a big fan of taking the knee initially, but then I read more about it and I think now it’s a sportsman’s move to show that you are against racism and it’s not linked to any political movement,” he said.
“So personally I think I will take the knee.”
Six-times world champion Lewis Hamilton has “Black Lives Matter” on his helmet, as does Ferrari’s four-times champion Sebastian Vettel. The Briton has not said whether he will take a knee.
Hamilton, the sport’s only Black driver, has campaigned vocally for equal opportunities and greater diversity in Formula One and is driving a black Mercedes with “End Racism” written on the car’s protective halo.
“Our voices are powerful and if we bring them together collectively we can have a huge impact,” Hamilton told reporters on Thursday. The champion last month criticised those who had stayed silent on the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who died in May after a white U.S. police officer knelt on his neck. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Ed Osmond)
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