US Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton has 'no plans to take a knee'

    Story highlights

    • Hamilton expresses support for athletes protesting racism
    • But says 'I have made no plans to take a knee'

    (CNN)Lewis Hamilton has expressed his support for athletes protesting social and racial injustice in the US, but insisted he has "made no plans" to take a knee ahead of Sunday's Austin Grand Prix.

    On the verge of clinching his fourth Formula One world title, Hamilton has previously said he felt it was important to "try to make a difference in the world -- particularly if your leader is not helping in that area."
      The Briton has also referenced the movement instigated by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in a series of Instagram posts, using the #TakeAKnee hashtag.
      However, speaking at Thursday's media conference, the 32-year-old Hamilton, who is the first and only black driver in F1 history, stressed his attention was focused squarely on the race.
      "I am in support of the whole movement and I have made no secret of that," Hamilton told CNN's Amanda Davies in answer to her question as to whether he would take a knee when the US National Anthem was played. "But I am here to focus on my job this weekend. I have made no plans."
      In recent months the line between sport and politics has been increasingly blurred after President Donald Trump criticized NFL players who kneel doing the US National Anthem to protest police brutality.
      "I don't really plan on allowing all the BS that's surrounding the topic pull me down in my strive to winning this world title," said Hamilton at the drivers' media conference. "I've worked hard to be where I am today."
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      'I have to keep the pressure on'

      The Mercedes driver has won four of the five races since the summer break, opening up a 59-point lead over leading rival Sebastian Vettel with just four races remaining.
      Vettel's title bid stalled after a spark plug failure at Suzuka, meaning the Championship is already out of the German driver's hands.
      Hamilton needs to score 16 more points than Vettel, which means if Hamilton wins Sunday he will become world champion if the 30-year-old German finishes sixth or lower.
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      Should Hamilton finish second in Austin, he will need Vettel to finish ninth or lower to secure the title which would make him Britain's most successful driver.
      "Sebastian has been a strong fighter all year," Hamilton told reporters, insisting he is taking nothing for granted.
      "He has had a few issues technically but the car is as good as it's always been. I anticipate [Ferrari] will be very strong this weekend and for the next four races.
      "I have to keep the pressure on; there is no reason to back out. I have to keep pushing forwards."
      Meanwhile, Max Verstappen -- F1's grand prix winner -- has extended his current deal with Red Bull through to the 2020 season.