Hamilton: 'Ecclestone comments show why F1 didn't tackle racism in the past'

F1

Lewis Hamilton has criticised Bernie Ecclestone's "ignorant and uneducated" comments about racism and F1's role

Lewis Hamilton

Florent Gooden / DPPI

Lewis Hamilton has blamed Bernie Ecclestone for failing to increase diversity in F1, following the former boss’s inflammatory comments on the subject.

The six-time world champion branded Ecclestone “ignorant and uneducated”, accusing him of lacking understanding of the issues facing black people.

He was responding to Ecclestone’s comments that some black people are more racist that white people, and his suggestion that F1 could do very little to increase diversity.

The current Formula 1 administration has also distanced itself from Ecclestone, revealing that he no longer has the title of honorific chairman.

In an interview with CNN, Ecclestone said that he didn’t think that racism towards Lewis Hamilton had affected the Mercedes driver. “I’m really unhappy if he took it seriously,” said Ecclestone. I never thought he did.”

Ecclestone said that he dealt with the appearance of spectators in blackface at the 2008 Spanish Grand Prix “behind the scenes a little bit — what else could you do?”

Although he praised Hamilton’s active role in supporting the Black Lives Matter cause, he went on to say that F1 didn’t have much power to change attitudes and portray the diversity of society. “I suppose the people that need to do that are the viewers,” he said. “For the number of people that are directly involved in sport such a small number of people can do very little.

“I’m surprised if anyone in Formula 1, 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 quickly responded on Instagram, saying, “I just don’t even know where to start with this one. So sad and disappointing to read these comments.”

He went on to say: ‘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.

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“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 who don’t have one, and to speak for those who are underrepresented to provide an opportunity to have a chance in our sport.’

Hamilton referred to his own experience of racism at the 2008 Spanish Grand Prix, when some spectators arrived in blackface, with t-shirts that read ‘Hamilton’s family’

“I remember this like it was yesterday,” he wrote. “The damage things like this do to people is unacceptable”.

Ecclestone’s comments have also been criticised by Formula 1, which this week launched a new initiative to increase diversity in the sport.

It which issued a statement saying, “We completely disagree with Bernie Ecclestone’s comments that have no place in Formula 1 or society.”

Ecclestone had been Chairman Emeritus of F1 since seeing the sports commercial rights to Liberty Media in 2017. This title expired in January 2020, said F1.