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Hamilton raises a fist after his first win of the season

SPIELBERG, Austria, July 12 (Reuters) - Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton, the sport's only Black driver, raised a clenched fist on the podium on Sunday after taking his first victory of the season at Austria's Red Bull Ring.

The Briton, a six-times world champion who is now six wins short of equalling Ferrari great Michael Schumacher’s all-time record of 91, has been outspoken in support of anti-racism campaigners and for equal opportunities.

The Mercedes driver had earlier taken a knee on the starting grid with some of the other drivers while wearing a T-shirt with ‘Black Lives Matter’ on the front. The world television feed quickly cut away to a Red Bull stunt parachutist, however.

The race itself was run without spectators due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hamilton, 35, also has Black Lives Matter written on his race helmet.

“We stand together and fight,” he said after posting on Instagram a picture of himself making the gesture on the Spielberg podium after collecting the 85th winner’s trophy of his F1 career.

“The team today took the knee which was just amazing to see that together we can learn, be open minded and conscious of what’s going on in the world.”

Hamilton had also clenched a fist while standing on his racing car, this season painted black rather than the usual silver.

The clenched fist gesture echoed that of sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos on the podium at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. Both men were kicked off the U.S. team and sent home after their famous black-gloved protest.

Hamilton, who also took a knee last weekend before the season-opening race at the same circuit, last month launched a commission to push diversity in motorsport and said he expected his campaigning to be “a lifelong thing”.

Formula One chairman Chase Carey has also donated $1 million towards a diversity foundation, as has the governing FIA. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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