Lewis Hamilton could continue to take a knee at Formula One races - saying he does not want the fight against racism to die a silent death.

Hamilton, who was among 14 drivers who knelt before the opening round of the 2020 season in Austria, revealed he was talked out of doing it at the US Grand Prix three years ago.

The 35-year-old, cementing his current status as British sport's loudest voice on racism, spoke passionately about the topic after he finished fourth in the first race of his title defence.

"There has been awareness on the subject over the last few weeks and we don't need it to die a silent death and see no change," said Hamilton.

"I can be the guinea pig and keep speaking out.

"All of us, myself included, we have to be accountable. This started with NFL player Colin Kaepernick. He sat down for the US national anthem. He sat down and received a backlash.

"It was suggested to him to take a knee. It was a powerful statement but he lost his job and never got it back.

"I spoke to him before the [2017] US Grand Prix and I had a helmet made in red with his number on the top. But I was silenced and told to back down. I supported that decision, which I regret.

"So it was important for me to make sure I played my part this time and, moving forward, whether there is going to be an opportunity to take the knee, I don't know.

"I don't want it to be a case of people feeling forced. I want people to be excited to be a part of the change.

"I want people to think that while they are fortunate not to have experienced racism, they can try to understand what it feels like and that they don't want people to feel that way and want to be part of change so in the future our kids can lead a better quality of life."

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc and Red Bull's Max Verstappen were among six drivers who opted not to take a knee.

Both posted messages before the race, saying they were committed in the fight against racism. McLaren's Carlos Sainz, Russian Daniil Kvyat, Alfa Romeo team-mates Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi also stood up.

Hamilton was the only driver to wear a special T-shirt with the message 'Black Lives Matter' in the minutes before Sunday's race. The others carried the 'End Racism' message instead.

On Saturday, Hamilton had implied that division between his fellow drivers over taking a knee is further proof of a lack of understanding of racism. 

"Nobody should be forced into a scenario where they have to kneel," he said on Sunday.

"I never requested or demanded for anyone to take a knee. I never brought it up. It was brought up by F1 and the GPDA [Grand Prix Drivers' Association].

"Sebastian Vettel and Romain Grosjean asked the drivers and there were several who said they wouldn't do it.

"I am really grateful for those who did it along with me. It is a powerful message, but whether you kneel or do not kneel, that is not going to change the world. It is a bigger issue than that."