Jean Todt: It would be 'completely inappropriate' to force drivers to take a knee

FIA president Jean Todt has praised Lewis Hamilton's efforts to promote an anti-racism message in Formula One, but says other drivers should not feel forced into making gestures or statements they are not comfortable with.

Hamilton, Formula One's only Black driver, has been a prominent voice on matters of diversity and racism, while the sport's collective effort to address those issues has often looked disjointed.

Anti-racism messaging has been present at all four races this season, but at two of the events a pre-race protest was poorly organised, with drivers turning up midway through and some choosing to kneel while others stood.

Following a particularly shambolic effort at the Hungarian Grand Prix, Hamilton called on Todt and other senior figures in Formula One for greater leadership on the issue.

After Hamilton spoke to Todt and F1 CEO Chase Carey ahead of last weekend's British Grand Prix, a formal protocol was put in place to give drivers a structured timetable around which they could make a statement of their choosing ahead of the race.

Speaking to media on Sunday, Todt was reluctant to comment on the disjointed nature of the pre-race protests prior to Silverstone, but said no driver should be forced into gestures they are not comfortable with.

"Of course, we are happy to put a special attention to the end of racism topic, which will be done," he said. "But again, as long as people feel they want to do it, and I feel it would be completely inappropriate to push people to do something they don't feel like.

"We must respect people that go to church, people that go to temple, people that go to synagogues, we must respect that."

Asked if was referring to the drivers when he said "people", Todt added: "I want to respect each believer. For me what matters is that life does matter.

"You know my wife is Chinese. I think she deserves some attention and white, black and everybody needs attention ... colour and religion, everybody's life matters."

The FIA president went on to praise Hamilton for using his platform to create awareness around the issue of racism.

"I do respect somebody who has beliefs, and tries to use his image, his voice, his leadership to protect something," Todt said.

"There are many things, unfortunately, we need to improve. I'm very much involved as FIA president and as the UN's Special Envoy for Road Safety about the victims on the roads.

"I do admire people who engage with something where they feel they can bring something. Clearly if he can bring something to that.

"I admire that, and as much as we will be able to contribute, we will do it."