CHARLES LECLERC has lashed out on social media and insists he is not a racist.
The Ferrari driver tweeted his comments following a recent interview where he explained his reasoning for not taking a knee at the start of F1 races.
Leclerc, along with six other drivers, stood while the remainder of the grid all kneeled last weekend at the British GP.
But in a strongly-worded statement on Twitter, Leclerc hit back at reports that made him "sound like a racist".
He 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 [against] others because of their skin colour, religion or gender.
"I'm not part of them and I never will. I've always been respectful to everyone and that should be the standard in today's world."
When quizzed about his Tweets ahead of this weekend's GP at Silverstone, the 22-year-old said he wanted to post his comments to get his voice heard.
He added: "I just don't want to be judged anymore.
"As I've said many times I'm active on social media and I don't accept to be called the way I've been called in the last few weeks negatively obviously just because of not kneeling.
"I wanted to make a straightforward tweet just to express my feelings and that's it."
Meanwhile, Kevin Magnussen has explained why he did not take a knee ahead of the British GP last weekend – when he had done so in the previous three races.
The Haas F1 driver said: "In terms of standing or kneeling, I want to make sure that I'm with the messaging of ending racism.
"I support that movement, and not any sort of political organisation that I think the Black Lives Matter movement is.
"I want to separate myself from that, and then push on with ending racism and that messaging, which I think is great that Formula One is doing."
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