Lewis Hamilton, who used his extensive platform to speak out against racial and social injustice, knelt in the front row wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt, while the other drivers wrote “End Racism”.
Prior to the race, Ferrari driver Leclerc posted a series of tweets explaining why he chose not to kneel with his colleagues.
“All 20 drivers are united with their groups against racism and prejudice, while embracing the principles of diversity, equality and inclusion, supporting the commitment of Formula 1 and the FIA,” he wrote.
“I believe that what matters is events and behaviors in our daily lives and not official gestures that could be considered controversial in some countries. I will not kneel down, but that does not mean that I am less committed than others to fighting it. racism. “
Verstappen reiterated Leclerc’s comments, writing: “I am very committed to equality and the fight against racism. But I believe that everyone has the right to express themselves at some point and in a way that suits them. I will not kneel today but respect and support the personal choices made by each driver. “
A total of six drivers chose not to kneel. The other four were Daniil Kvyat, Carlos Sainz, Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkonen.
The different attitudes were particularly strong less than two weeks after the launch of Formula 1’s “Formula One” initiative, which aims to tackle racism and inequality.
A few days after the initiative began, former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone was widely condemned for his comments on racism.
Businesses as usual
Despite the extensive break before the start of the season, the regular service was repeated on the track as Valtteri Bottas gave Mercedes the first place on the podium.
Mercedes seemed to finish with two drivers in the first and second, but Hamilton had a five-second penalty just four laps from the end for his role in a collision with Red Bull’s Alex Albon.
This allowed Leclerc to take second place and gave the young McLaren Lando Norris driver third place for his first podium in Formula 1.
Hamilton had not won in Austria since 2016, with his teammate Botas winning one and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen taking the other two in recent years.
The six-time world champion had an uphill battle from the off, after being relegated from second to fifth in the grid less than an hour before the start of the race.
Hamilton was initially cleared by the jury for failing to slow down for yellow flags during the qualifiers, but was given the grid penalty at the last minute following a complaint from Red Bull.
It was reported that the new data provided by Red Bull for the implementation of the ban was a video posted on the Formula One Twitter account.
Red Bull chief Christian Horner said the video was released only by the race’s organizer on Sunday morning, so it was not available for investigation on Saturday.
Botas made a compelling effort to ignore the drama behind him and led the race from start to finish, despite intense pressure after a series of safety cars.
Verstappen seemed to be the only driver capable of causing the first two victories, but electric car problems forced the Dutch driver to retire early in the 11th round.
Sebastian Vettel, a four-time champion, was in full swing after 31 laps after colliding with Carlos Sainz, the man who will replace him at Ferrari next year.
The modified season of Formula 1, which has canceled a number of victory victories, continues with another match in Austria next weekend, before heading to Hungary.