Sebastian Vettel, speaking at Aston Martin’s 2022 car launch on Thursday, claimed that drivers were not consulted with the decision ahead of the new season
Sebastian Vettel spoke of his ‘surprise’ that F1 chiefs have decided to drop the knee gesture prior to races.
Earlier this week, the sport’s chiefs decided to pull the plug on the gesture before the start of the 2022 season – despite several drivers, most notably Lewis Hamilton, vocal about promoting racial equality both within F1 and wider society.
“The [knee] gesture was important for the ones that believed that was an important gesture, because we need to respect everyone,” F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali told Sky Sports.
“But now is the time to move on and take some other action. The action is the focus on the diversity of our community, and this is the first step.
“We are committed to increasing diversity and opportunity within this incredible sport.”
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And with the news fresh on everyone’s mind, Vettel spoke on Thursday of his reaction to the decision while appearing at the launch of Aston Martin’s new car ahead of the 2022 season.
When quizzed about the change, he answered: “No, they just changed. I was a bit surprised. I think the issues that we’re tackling are not going to be gone within two years. And therefore I was a bit surprised.
“I hope that as drivers, we find a way to get together and find a slot of still expressing topics that are important to us.
“Probably not all the drivers care, but I think there’s some that really do care. And it’ll be great to get together.
“But probably it was getting a bit too strong and individual for the business side of things.”
It is understood that the drivers will still be able to take a knee if they wish, possibly at another stage before the start of the race, perhaps by their cars.
F1 do plan to carry on their anti-racism message however, as they announced an extension to continue funding the F1 Engineering Scholarship programme for underrepresented groups until 2025.
They will also continue to broadcast the anti-racism message prior to every race next season, as well as F1’s ‘We Race As One’ branding.
2020 Formula One World Championship Limited)
With Hamilton among the most vocal, F1 opted to take the knee in an effort to help promote racial equality and diversity both in the sport and wider society.
Like the Mercedes driver, Vettel has also supported and pushed for positive change and has worn items in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community at races.
With today’s launch, Vettel’s Aston Martin became the third team to unveil their car for the 2022 season after Red Bull and Haas.
The AMR22 was revealed at the team’s UK headquarters in Gaydon, Warwickshire and the team hope to improve on a seventh-place finish in the constructor’s championship in 2021.