Lewis Hamilton has branded Bernie Ecclestone’s comments “ignorant and uneducated” after the ex-Formula One chief waded into the Black Lives Matter debate.
Ecclestone claimed black people are often “more racist” than white people in an interview with CNN, also revealing his surprise that Hamilton had been affected by race issues in F1.
The 89-year-old Ecclestone stepped down as F1 chief executive in 2017, but his comments have now brought a stinging rebuke from the six-time world champion.
“So sad and disappointing to read these comments,” Hamilton posted on Instagram.
“Bernie is out of the sport and a different generation but this 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.”
British star Hamilton has criticised F1’s failure to combat racism in the wake of the death of George Floyd in police custody in the United States.
The 35-year-old had specifically referred to an incident in Barcelona in 2008 when a group of fans dressed up in blackface and aimed derogatory chants at him.
Ecclestone insisted Hamilton had never discussed this with him however, leading to further condemnation from the English driver.
Went down to Hyde Park today for the peaceful protest and I was so proud to see in person so many people of all races and backgrounds supporting this movement. It was really moving. I’m feeling extremely positive that change will come, but we cannot stop now. #blacklivesmatter ✊🏾 pic.twitter.com/koOTEPOXAh
— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) June 21, 2020
“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,” Hamilton’s social media post continued.
“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.”
Current F1 bosses have launched a new #WeRaceAsOne initiative, to boost diversity and inclusion in the sport, to which Ecclestone’s successor Chase Carey has personally contributed one million dollars.
The F1 chiefs distanced themselves from Ecclestone’s comments in a statement reading: “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 F1 or society.
“Mr Ecclestone has played no role in Formula 1 since he left our organisation in 2017, his title Chairman Emeritus, being honorific, expired in January 2020.”