Lewis Hamilton and fellow F1 drivers take the knee ahead of first race of new season

Drivers take a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement before the Austrian Formula One Grand Prix race. Credit: AP

F1 drivers took the knee and wore t-shirts reading "end racism" ahead of the start of the new season in Austria .

Lewis Hamilton wore a "Black Lives Matter" t-shirt and was among 14 drivers who knelt before the race in a message against racism.

As well as the drivers, many F1 team members also knelt before the race began.

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen were among six who chose to stand.

F1 tweeted “we are united” in its ambition to end racism along with a video of drivers kneeling down with the hashtag #WeRaceAsOne.

“End Racism. One cause. One commitment. As individuals, we choose our own way to support the cause. As a group of drivers and a wider F1 family, we are united in its goal,” F1 said.

Lewis Hamilton has been a vocal supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement.

On "Blackout Tuesday" - when social media users were encouraged to share a black square in support - he wrote a heartfelt post on his Instagram account.

"The injustice that we are seeing our brothers and sisters face all over the world time and time again is disgusting, and MUST stop," he said in June. "So many people seem surprised, but to us unfortunately, it is not surprising.

"Those of us who are black, brown or in between, see it everyday and should not have to feel as though we were born guilty, don’t belong, or fear for our lives based on the colour of our skin."

Valtteri Bottas won an incident-packed race on Sunday, as Hamilton was demoted to fourth following a five-second time penalty.

Bottas, who led every lap in a peerless performance, crossed the line just 0.6 seconds clear of his Mercedes team-mate, but the world champion was penalised after he was involved in a crash with Red Bull driver Alex Albon in the closing stages.