Read our post-race analysis: Why Mercedes should be relieved at Austrian GP victory, despite being in a class of their own
Six drivers including Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) and Max Verstappen (Red Bull) declined to join Lewis Hamilton in taking a knee ahead of the start of Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix.
All 20 drivers wore ‘End Racism’ t-shirts, however, apart from Hamilton (Mercedes) who wore a Black Lives Matter top.
The six-time F1 champion, the sport's only black driver, has been a vocal campaigner against racial injustice in recent weeks following the death of George Floyd in police custody in the US.
Hamilton has called out rivals who chose not to post any anti-racism messages on social media, prompting a number of them to do so. "I know who you are and I see you," Hamilton wrote last month.
The topic of taking a knee, which is associated with the Black Lives Matter movement, was discussed during a virtual drivers meeting on Friday night, but they failed to reach a unanimous conclusion.
In the end all but six of the 20 drivers decided to kneel.
Leclerc, Verstappen, Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo), Daniil Kvyat (Alpha Tauri), Carlos Sainz (McLaren) and Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo) were the only drivers to remain standing as they formed in two rows for the Austrian national anthem.
Discussing the matter on Saturday night, Hamilton - who has chided his fellow drivers over their failure to speak up in support of the Black Lives Matter - said: "We spoke a bit in the drivers' briefing, yep, interesting. I don't know what we will see… Potentially, people will pay their respects in their own way.
”I just described that silence is complicit and there is still silence in some cases."So, I thanked those that have said something on their social media platforms - because they have a great voice - and encouraged the others that have not, to say something.”
One cause. One commitment.
As individuals, we choose our own way to support the cause. As a group of drivers and a wider F1 family, we are united in its goal.#WeRaceAsOne pic.twitter.com/qjxYi1zWcJ
— Formula 1 (@F1) July 5, 2020
Teams had left it up to individual drivers to make up their own minds, while the FIA insisted it was not the job of the sporting federation to instruct the drivers on what is essentially a political decision.
It is understood those who remained standing are uneasy about the BLM’s politics.
Leclerc and Verstappen were among those who explained why they would not kneel.
"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," Leclerc said. "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.
“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.”
Verstappen, meanwhile, wrote on Twitter: "I am very committed to equality and the fight against racism. But I believe everyone has the right to express themself (sic) at a time and in a way that suits them."I will not take the knee today but respect and support the personal choices every driver makes."