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Lewis Hamilton has no plans to take a knee during U.S. anthem

AUSTIN -- Though he insists he has no plans to stage a protest during the U.S. Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton says America's turbulent political climate gives him more motivation to win than the fact he could secure the title this weekend.

Hamilton stands on the verge of a fourth world championship and could wrap it up in Austin if he wins and Sebastian Vettel finishes sixth or lower. On top of his title ambitions, there is an added level of intrigue in Hamilton this weekend as he has previously intimated he would consider his own version of the protests which have become a controversial part of the current NFL season.

Lewis Hamilton. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Last month, a large number of NFL players knelt, locked arms, raised fists or refused to come out of the locker room during the pregame U.S. national anthem. It followed President Donald Trump accusation that players who knelt -- something started by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick -- are disrespecting the flag.

Hamilton previously shared an Instagram post in support of Kaepernick, which had an image of the player alongside a list of names of victims of police shootings with the hashtag "No conviction" alongside. Though he supports the protests, Hamilton does not plan to make his own in Austin.

When asked about the possibility of kneeling during the U.S. national anthem -- which will play in the moments before drivers start the formation lap -- he said: "I don't really have a position and I don't have any plans [to do so].

"Of course there has been a lot of mention of it. Not of kneeling just the whole situation and I know a lot of people here in America, both black and white people who live in America, so I get quite a good view of what is happening here and opinions here in the States about the movement which I think is pretty huge.

"I've posted about it because I respect it highly and I find the movement that Kaepernick started is awesome. I'm very much in support of it. I am here to win and that is part of my priority at the moment and what I am focused on at the moment."

On track, Hamilton has seen his championship lead swell considerably in the last three races, with Ferrari and main title rival Vettel hitting trouble on each occasion. If the scenarios play out correctly Hamilton could emulate his 2015 performance, which saw him wrap up his third and most recent championship.

Though he is mindful of the bigger picture occurring away from the race track, Hamilton does not want the controversy that has come with the protests to distract him from the job he has to complete at the Circuit of the Americas.

"I think the talk of the championship win this weekend is silly really. Sebastian is going to be... you can't expect them to have a difficult weekend again, they are going to be quick and will have an opportunity to win.

"The champion, as long as it is done in the next four races, that is my focus. I honestly couldn't care less if it was here or the last race just as long as it is done. I think winning here is the most important thing for me, particularly in the heat of all that is going on in this country. I think that is a priority for me."

When asked about the topic again later, he added: "I am here to win, that is my focus, and I don't plan to allow all the B.S. that surrounds the topic pull me down in my stride to win this F1 world title. I've worked hard to be where I am today. While I do have opinions and feelings towards the whole situation I have no plans to do anything at the moment."

When sharing the Kaepernick meme earlier this year, Hamilton signed off his post with a call for his followers to educate themselves.

Having spoke in the Thursday press conference, the Englishman elaborated further on his feelings about the protest to BBC's Radio 5 Live: "I know Colin and I'm a big admirer of him ... jeez, what he's started, no one has done that since Martin Luther King.

"It's crazy to think, when slavery was abolished in 1865 I believe it was here, and 1835 in the UK or something like that ... so to think that 100 years later you've still got the same problem, people are still divided, there's still racism, there's still discrimination. It's sickening to think that there's so much negativity when we should all be pulling together for equality and diversity, it's a really important thing in today's world. It's great to see certain people, companies; when I go to fashion shows I'm seeing a lot of diversity applied to their shows when previously it has been one way. Hopefully now in this sport there are a lot of kids from different ethnicities trying to get into this sport, generally in the lower categories.

"Particularly with Kaepernick, sacrificing his career for the greater good, just that alone is amirable. Then that kinda puts me on the spot, like 'what do I do'... but, to be continued."

Author: Nate Saunders, ESPN UK
Source: http://www.espn.co.uk/f1/story/_/id/21081011/lewis-hamilton-no-plans-take-knee-us-anthem

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