Who would have believed that Kimi Raikkonen would kneel because Hamilton asked him to

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Starting grid for the Austrian Grand Prix. Bernie Ecclestone I had to see the images between surprised and funny. 14 pilots had knelt on the ground as a gesture against racism in the context of the campaign with the one that Lewis Hamilton had dragged into Formula 1. For decades, Ecclestone kept this world away from all social or collective pronouncements. It was anathema. Nothing scared sponsors and promoters more than mixing their image with political, divisive or controversial causes. At the Red Bull Ring, traditional canons were broken.

At the beginning of June, Hamilton entered the theme shop as an elephant, pointing out his colleagues and emblematic figures of Formula 1 for not committing enough against racism and the lack of diversity of Formula 1. Some were surprised and upset by the start of the british and his way of approaching the subject. Since then, many have been placed between a rock and a hard place when put under the public spotlight for their respective positions in the grand prize. When naively Lando Norris Days before, the internal debate was unveiled, adding more pressure to those who did not share the expected and most graphic gesture of kneeling before millions of spectators with different sensibilities and social contexts. But did anyone really think that Kimi Raikkonen was going to get down on her knees?

Whatever, but don’t kneel

“I see those of you who remain silent, some the biggest stars, but you remain silent in the midst of injustice. Not a sign of my sector, which, of course, is a sport dominated by whites. I am the only one of color here, but I am the only one who stands up alone ”was the first public statement in June. Almost of war, and some colleagues considered themselves alluded to and quickly reacted defensively on social networks, such as Lando Norris or Daniel Ricciardo. But the ball had already rolled. In recent weeks, the intense militancy of the Briton found an echo in Mercedes and the Formula 1 organization itself, which launched the #WeRaceAsOne initiative in a hurry. Chasey Carey, CEO of Liberty, donated a million dollars from his own pocket.

For Hamilton, however, it was not enough. He wanted clear and express gestures from his colleagues, some of them reluctant to kneel on the ground, emerged in the United States in very particular circumstances and contexts, and of political connotations in recent times that did not want to give the impression that they shared. Several expressed to Hamilton that they would support any initiative against racism, but not kneel. On Saturday, Hamilton continued to apply public pressure after the outlook he found in the first meeting. Always to questions from journalists but without ignoring his final intentions, for which he had found the support of those responsible for the GPDA, the association of pilots represented by Romain Grosjean and Sebastian Vettel, Hamilton’s direct ally in history.

Lewis Hamilton has been very active on all fronts in his fight against racism (MERCEDES AMG)
Lewis Hamilton has been very active on all fronts in his fight against racism (MERCEDES AMG)

“What you consider correct”

Hamilton initially had to pick up candles at the Red Bull Ring because many reproached him for his refusal to put them on the trigger without warning. “At the meeting I saw that many pilots … obviously, a message I put on was interpreted, it was not directed specifically at the pilots.” But it was not true. The Briton dropped veiled lawsuits towards some of his companions. “I thanked the people who had demonstrated on social media because they have a great voice, a platform, and encouraged others to say something, describing that silence was a scene of complicity. There is still silence in some cases, but I think it is part of the dialogue of people trying to understand, because there are people who do not fully understand what the reasons for these protests are. ” They understood them, but not to the point of totally following the British.

Several pilots told Hamilton that he clearly represented the Black Lives Matter movement, whose political evolution has been accentuated in recent times. For some pilots, the knee on the ground was the ultimate expression of that movement. “No one should be forced into a scenario where one would have to kneel, and I would like to correct an incorrect story that is circulating. I have never asked anyone to kneel, I did not even take it out, it was taken out by Formula 1 and also the GPDA. When at the pilots’ meeting Seb (Vettel) and (Romain) Grosjean asked the pilots if they would or not, there were several who said they would not, and I let everyone say what they wanted. I opened up to them and said “Look guys, do what you feel is right”. Few believed it.

“Kneeling does not change the world”

Some pilots had suggested that a collective stance be adopted. Either they knelt, or not. Otherwise, those who did not could be subjected to public pressure in the event of a possible lack of empathy for a similar cause. But Lewis was going to kneel yes, or yes. For this reason, some were cured in health before arriving at the grill ceremony. “I think that what matters are the facts and behaviors in our daily life rather than formal gestures that could be controversial in some countries ”, Charles Leclerc tweeted in the morning, “I’m not going to kneel, but this does not mean at all that I have less determination than others in the fight against racism.” Verstappen spoke on the same line. In the end, they all posed in a black shirt and the slogan, but Charles Leclerc, Max Verstappen, Carlos Sainz, Daniil Kvyat, Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi remained standing. In some cases, like Sainz, pointing to that slogan.

Hamilton added the ‘Black Lives Matters’ to his. The British had to clarify after using the image of this movement to promote equality, moving away from the political proclamations incorporated in it in recent times and away from issues related to racism, especially in Great Britain, for what British tried to separate the social reinvicadiones of the policies at the end of the race. “I am very grateful to those who have knelt with me, I think it is a powerful message, but ultimately, if you kneel or not, it is not going to change the world. This is a much bigger topic than something as small as this. But everyone has the right to their personal choice, and for me personally, it was what they should do. ” It was what he tried from days ago. Six pilots did not think the same.

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