Formula One

Bernie Ecclestone says black people are often 'more racist' than white people

At a time when unity is needed to tackle racism and inequality, we completely disagree with Bernie Ecclestone’s comments that have no place in Formula One or society

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US PRESS GROUP

Bernie Ecclestone has claimed black people are “more racist” than white people and said Formula One has been “too busy” to deal with racism in an astonishing television interview.

The former chief executive of Formula One and a name synonymous with the sport said in an exchange with CNN that racism “makes me so upset”. He also said he did not think Lewis Hamilton’s experiences of racism had affected the driver. Hamilton, the six-times world champion, recently said he had felt the “stigma of racism” throughout his F1 career.

Asked by the interviewer Amanda Davies whether Formula One should have done more to tackle racism, the 89-year-old said: “I don’t think anyone bothered about it before. They’re too busy trying to win races or find sponsors or something. Really other things that are of little if any interest.”

While he praised Hamilton for his role campaigning for Black Lives Matters, on the subject of the Hamilton Commission, a body set up by the world champion to help increase diversity in motor sport and overcome the “institutional barriers” the driver said he experienced in F1, Ecclestone said: “I don’t think it’s going to do anything bad or good for Formula One.

It’ll just make people think which is more important. I think that’s the same for everybody.

“People ought to think a little bit and think: ‘Well, what the hell. Somebody’s not the same as white people and black people should think the same thing about white people.’ In lots of cases, black people are more racist than what white people are [sic].”

Asked about criticism over whether the sport took Hamilton’s complaints seriously enough, Ecclestone said: “I’m really unhappy if he took it seriously. I never thought he did. I didn’t think it affected him.”

Later in the interview Ecclestone went on to suggest it is not even the responsibility of F1 to tackle racist behaviour. “I suppose the people that need to do that are the viewers. For the number of people that are directly involved in sport such a small number of people can do very little,” he said.

“I’m surprised if anyone in Formula One, certainly the teams and the people like the promoters, have any concern about this. It’s not a good excuse not to be concerned but everybody’s too busy doing things that they have to do day to day to think about something that doesn’t directly affect them.”

Hamilton hit back at Ecclestone’s comments, saying: “So sad and disappointing to read these comments. Bernie is out of the sport and a different generation but this is exactly what is wrong – ignorant and uneducated comments which show us how far we as a society need to go before real equality can happen.

“It makes complete sense to me now that nothing was said or done to make our sport more diverse or to address the racial abuse I received throughout my career. If someone who has run the sport for decades has such a lack of understanding of the deep-rooted issues we as black people deal with every day, how can we expect all the people who work under him to understand. It starts at the top.

“Now the time has come for change. I will not stop pushing to create an inclusive future for our sport with equal opportunity for all. To create a world that provides equal opportunity for minorities. I will continue to use my voice to represent those that don’t have one, and to speak for those who are under-represented to provide an opportunity to have a chance in our sport.”

Formula One released a statement which read: “At a time when unity is needed to tackle racism and inequality, we completely disagree with Bernie Ecclestone’s comments that have no place in Formula One or society.”

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