(Reuters) – Sebastian Vettel said Formula One drivers had not been consulted about the sport’s plans to do away with the pre-race slot for taking the knee, and suggested the decision may have been taken for business reasons.
Formula One chief executive Stefano Domenicali told Sky Sports earlier this week that the sport would no longer set time aside for drivers to take the knee ahead of races, as it looks to introduce more concrete actions to combat racism.
The drivers typically used the pre-race moment, introduced in 2020, to support causes of their choice or Formula One’s broader “We Race As One” diversity, inclusion and sustainability platform.
“The issues that we are tackling are not going to be gone within two years,” said four-times champion Vettel ahead of the launch of his new 2022 Aston Martin challenger.
“Therefore I was a bit surprised. Probably it was getting a bit too strong and too individual for the business side of it.”
Domenicali said the “We Race As One” platform would continue with a video that preceded drivers taking the knee still being broadcast and branding for the initiative visible at race tracks.
Vettel, who like seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton is a staunch advocate for social justice, racial equality and environmental sustainability, was among those to kneel.
He hoped drivers would still find a way to display their support for the issues they cared about.
“I hope that as drivers we find a way to get together and find a slot for still expressing topics that are important to us,” said the 34-year-old.
“Probably not all the drivers care but I think there are some that really do care.”
(Reporting by Abhishek Takle; editing by Toby Davis)