Charles Leclerc angered by accusations of racism on social media
"As I've said many times, I'm quite active on social media and I just do not accept to be called the way I've been called in the last few weeks just because of not kneeling"
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 07/08/20 1:30pm
Ferrari's Charles Leclerc has strongly hit back at accusations of racism on social media for not taking a knee ahead of grands prix so far this season.
The 22-year-old was one of six drivers not to perform the gesture at F1's season-opener in Austria last month and has remained among those to stand at the races since.
Leclerc had explained on Twitter prior to the first race the reasons why he would not be taking a knee and said it did not lessen his commitment to fighting racism. The Ferrari driver was among the first drivers to post a message of support after Lewis Hamilton had called on more people to speak out following the death of George Floyd in the United States.
All drivers have worn anti-racism T-shirts and the FIA have said they are free to express support in their own way.
In three strongly-worded posts on Twitter, Leclerc said: "It is very sad to see how some people manipulate my words to make headlines making me sound like a racist.
"I am not racist and I absolutely hate racism. Racism is disgusting.
"Stop putting me in the same group as these disgusting people that are discriminating others because of their skin colour, religion or gender. I'm not part of them and I never will.
"And to whoever is using my image to promote their wrong ideas, please stop. I'm not into politics and I don't want to be involved in that."
Speaking in the subsequent drivers' press conference at Silverstone, Leclerc said of his posts: "I just don't want to be judged anymore.
"As I've said many times, I'm quite active on social media and I just do not accept to be called the way I've been called in the last few weeks - negatively, obviously - just because of not kneeling.
"So that's it. I just wanted to make a straightforward tweet just to express my feelings."