Former Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone has given an extraordinary interview regarding the Black Lives Matter movement and motorsport’s push for increased diversity, claiming that he would be “really unhappy” if Lewis Hamilton took past instances of racist abuse seriously and that ‘in lots of cases black people are more racist than white people are.
Speaking to CNN Sport, Ecclestone expressed his view that no one in F1 has taken systemic racism seriously because they are “too busy trying to win races”, and said that while Hamilton’s new commission into diversity within motorsport will help to get people thinking, it will not do “anything bad or good” for the sport.
“I don’t think it’s going to do anything bad or good for Formula One,” Ecclestone told CNN of The Hamilton Commission, which the six-time world champion launched this week after taking an active role in fighting racial inequality – a stance that has become more prominent since the killing of George Floyd last month.
“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”.
Ecclestone was immediately pushed on what he meant by that, given the long-term fight for racial equality that has taken place other the last two centuries, and he referenced the recent decisions to remove a number of statues of figures with strong links to the slave trade, which came about in the UK after the Bristol monument of Edward Colston was pulled down and thrown into the harbour earlier this month.
“Things over the years I’ve noticed and there’s no need for it,” the 89-year-old added. “Against injustice for anyone, whatever colour they are, it’s important to do something about that for a start.
“I don’t think you’re going to easily change people’s attitude. I think they need to start being taught at school. So, they grow up not having to think about these things. I think it’s completely stupid taking all these statues down. They should’ve left them there. Take the kids from school to look and say why they’re there and what the people did and how wrong it was what they did”.
Ecclestone also issued a controversial response to a question about Hamilton’s own experiences of racism throughout his career. The 35-year-old Mercedes driver spoke last week of how he had things thrown at him by other kids during his days in karting, and also how an incident at the 2008 F1 test in Barcelona – when fans dressed up in blackface and aimed monkey chants at him with ‘Lewis Hamilton’s family’ written on their T-shirts – had an impact on him.
Read more: The Independent