F1 authorities have released a statement distancing the sport from comments made by former Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone.
Formula 1 has responded to comments said by former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone in an interview this week. Speaking to CNN, Ecclestone welcomed Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton’s very prominent drive to improve diversity within motorsport as he established ‘The Hamilton Commission’ last week. He also said that Hamilton’s participation in Black Lives Matters protests in London is ‘wonderful’ and that he is ‘doing a great job’ in how he uses his very visible social media presence and sporting authority to try making a difference.
However, in the same interview, Ecclestone made the claim that ‘in a lot of cases, black people are more racist than what white people are’ – a comment that he wasn’t able to back up with fact upon being asked to elaborate. Instead, Ecclestone said ‘he had noticed it over the years’.
Such comments are always going to be incendiary, and Formula 1 moved quickly to distance itself from the quotes made by the 89 year old. A statement released by Liberty Media and Formula One Management said: “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 1 or society.”
Ecclestone was the former Chairman of Formula 1 under CVC’s ownership, with the British businessman at the helm of Formula 1 for three decades. However, when the sport was sold to Liberty Media in 2016, Ecclestone finally stepped aside from his control of the sport. He held onto an honorific title of ‘Chairman Emeritus’, but Liberty say that this has now expired: 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.’ the statement said.
Formula 1 as a sport is currently investing heavily into diversity initiatives, with the #WeRaceAsOne initiative launched last week. This is to help instil a mindset of inclusion and openness within the sport, alongside the newly established taskforce – Liberty Media’s Chase Carey is stumping up the first $1 million dollars of initial funding.
Meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton has weighed in to deride Ecclestone’s comments. Taking to social media, the Formula 1 Champion said: “So sad and disappointing to read these comments. 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 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 underrepresented to provide an opportunity to have a chance in our sport.”
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