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Hamilton vows to unite F1 grid over taking of a knee

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Strong message: Lewis Hamilton on Sunday’s podium

Strong message: Lewis Hamilton on Sunday’s podium

Getty Images

Strong message: Lewis Hamilton on Sunday’s podium

Lewis Hamilton said he has spoken to some of the drivers who have not taken a knee - and hopes to unite the grid on the issue.

Just 11 of the 20 drivers joined Hamilton in performing the anti-racism gesture ahead of Sunday's Styrian Grand Prix.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, Ferrari's Charles Leclerc, and 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen are among those who have elected to stand before the opening two grands prix.

"We had the drivers' briefing on Friday and afterwards we all stayed on and debated whether to take a knee again," said Hamilton, who claimed his first victory of the season with a dominant performance at Spielberg's Red Bull Ring. "I said I am going to continue to do it.

"After the Zoom call, I tried to spend one-on-one time with a few of those who had chosen to stand, and to have a chat with them.

"Some of the drivers maybe don't fully understand how impactful their voices can be to people. Some of them don't want to support 'Black Lives Matter' but they stand for anti-racism, which is the same thing.

"I have made it clear that I am not supporting the political side but the human rights' side of things.

"From the drivers' point of view, we are going to come closer through this. I am not saying that everyone is going to take a knee. But over time as we get to talk about it more often, I would like to think we will all be together in the understanding of it."

Hamilton, whose win took him to within four points of championship leader and team-mate Valtteri Bottas, has vowed to spend the rest of his life combating racism.

He announced before the season that he will launch the Hamilton Commission in the hope of improving diversity in Formula One. Hamilton remains the only black driver on the grid.

"It seems that for hundreds of years, for people of colour, their lives have been less important," added the Mercedes driver.

"Us taking a knee and having a black car doesn't solve the problem, it raises awareness but we have got a whole season, a whole year and in my mind we have got a constant fight that we all have to do."

Belfast Telegraph