McLaren’s Lando Norris says that F1 drivers are considering showing their solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement by taking a knee on the grid before next Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix.
Global protests against racial injustice and Lewis Hamilton’s strong message to Grand Prix racing’s chiefs to promote diversity and inclusion have compelled Formula 1 to launch its #WeRaceAsOne initiative.
But Hamilton and his colleagues look set to express their solidarity with the anti-racism theme by taking a knee before the start of the opening round of the F1 world championship.
The act of kneeling has been a key element of the global movement against the racism, and one that was started by NFL player Colin Kaepernick in August 2016 when the San Francisco 49ers quarterback used the gesture to raise awareness of police brutality against African Americans.
Norris says several drivers are considering the act, but the McLaren charger believes all the drivers should take part in the symbolic protest.
“Some of the drivers have already been speaking [about taking a knee],” Norris told PA Sport.
“If we are going to do it, we should all do it as a grid. It will be discussed following the drivers’ briefing with the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association on Friday.
“We will do whatever we can to show that we care and respect everyone. We will do what is right when the time comes.”
McLaren F1 boss Andreas Seidl says his team will support its drivers if they choose to take a knee before the race.
“We obviously fully support all the initiatives which are ongoing at the moment,” Seidl told reporters on Tuesday.
“We are very close there with Formula 1. We leave it completely to our drivers how they feel they have to deal with the different initiatives which are in discussion at the moment.”
Like Mercedes, which has stepped up its efforts to improve diversity among its team staff, McLaren is also undertaking several initiatives to “support minorities” within its organization.
“Racism or discrimination is clearly something which has no place at McLaren,” Seidl said.
“The culture we have here at our team is clearly a culture where we want to value every single member or the contribution of every single member of the team, providing equal opportunities for every single member of the team as well.
“We are running a lot of different initiatives also to support minorities or groups that are currently under-represented in our organisation, to simply get even better opportunities, to get the chance to get into our team.
“We are looking into our processes of how we hire people, how we promote people also within our organisation. It simply doesn’t matter for us which religion someone belongs to, the colour of their skin, lifestyle, gender, etc.
“We strongly support all the initiatives Formula 1 is putting out there at the moment.”
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