Austrian Grand Prix: Charles Leclerc confirms he will not take knee before race

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc has confirmed that he will not take a knee before the Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday, but said that it does not mean he is “less committed than others” in tackling racism within the sport.

The 20 Formula One drivers were split on whether to take a knee before this afternoon’s race or not, with some growing concerned about the political stance taken by the Black Lives Matter UK Twitter account this week.

The sport is looking at how it tackles systemic racism and increased diversity, with the message #WeRaceAsOne featuring regularly at the Red Bull Ring this weekend.

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But talks on Friday night between the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association were left at a stalemate over a universal gesture before Sunday’s race, resulting in a decision that drivers will instead make an individual choice over whether to take a knee or not.

Lewis Hamilton is widely expected to do so after taking such an active vocal role in trying to address racial inequality within F1 in recent months, but it’s understood that a third of drivers have decided not to do so.

One of those is Ferrari’s race-winner Lelerc, who posted a message on social media before the Grand Prix to explain his reasons behind the move.

“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.”

The Black Lives Matter UK Twitter account posted messages earlier in the week surrounding the conflict between Israel and Palestine, as well as calling for the immediate defunding of the British police. As a result, a number of supporters have since distanced themselves from the movement due to the political stance taken, with a belief that it detracts from the main issue in attempting to bring about change for racial equality.

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