Vettel “surprised” F1 scrapped pre-race ceremony to take a knee

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F1 announced earlier this week that it would be removing the scheduled time in the pre-race ceremonies for drivers to make gestures, which saw most take a knee at races in the past two years.

Athletes across the world have been taking a knee ahead of sporting events to show solidarity in the fight against racism.

F1 is set to focus its efforts on moving from “gesture to action” in 2022, according to CEO Stefano Domenicali, as part of its We Race As One campaign and push to improve diversity and inclusion.

Vettel was one of the main drivers involved in ensuring F1 set aside dedicated time for gestures such as taking a knee in the pre-race ceremonies back in 2020.

Speaking on Thursday ahead of the launch of Aston Martin’s new AMR22 car, Vettel said he was not aware that drivers had been consulted on the decision.

“No, they just changed. I was a bit surprised,” Vettel said. “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 will be great to get together.

“But probably it was getting a bit too strong and too individual for the business side of things.”

F1 said that all teams had been informed of the intention to not continue with the pre-race gesture in recent weeks, as well as before the decision was announced earlier this week.

Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin Racing, Lance Stroll, Aston Martin Racing Photo by: Aston Martin Racing

Vettel has been one of the most vocal drivers regarding social issues in the past couple of years, most notably in Hungary last year when he made a strong statement against the country’s anti-LGBT laws by wearing a rainbow T-shirt on the grid.

McLaren’s Lando Norris said earlier this week that he was confident drivers would still be able to speak up on important issues even without the dedicated time in the schedule.

F1 has opted to extend its support of an engineering scholarship programme until the end of 2025, supporting students to get placements at universities in the UK and Italy.

F1 will continue to broadcast a We Race As One video ahead of the race, and its branding will remain in place trackside throughout the 2022 season.

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