Former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has stirred controversy after claiming some ‘black people are more racist than white people’, comments that have prompted F1 itself to issue a statement to further distance itself from him.

In an interview with CNN, Ecclestone expressed his opinion on F1’s drive towards improving diversity within the sport, which itself was spurred on by Lewis Hamilton’s attempt to push for greater equality in motorsport.

 

 

The six-time World Champion has been a vocal supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement over social media and encouraged the sport to follow suit, leading to this week’s announcement it is launching the #WeRaceAsOne task force to improve and support diversity.

Hamilton’s proactiveness did earn praise from Ecclestone, who said he recognised the work he is doing to use his huge global profile for the benefit of good.

"Lewis is a little bit special. First, he's very, very, very talented as a driver and he seems to be now extremely talented when's he standing up and can make speeches.

"This last campaign he's doing for black people is wonderful. He's doing a great job and it's people like that - easily recognisable - that people listen to."

However, he is cynical as to whether F1’s own efforts will have the desired effect beyond making ‘people think’.

"I don't think it's going to do anything bad or good for Formula 1. It'll just make people think which is more important. I think that's the same for everybody.

"In lots of cases, black people are more racist than what white people are."

When asked to provide a specific example, he replied that it was something he’d ‘noticed’.

Ecclestone was in charge of F1 back in 2008 when supporters of then team-mate Fernando Alonso donned ‘blackface’ to target the Briton during testing in Spain, a moment the Mercedes driver has referenced in recent weeks as having a profound effect on him.

However, Ecclestone says he is upset to learn it hurt him as much as it did, as he wasn’t aware of this at the time.

“I'm surprised that [the blackface in Spain] concerns [Hamilton]. I'm really unhappy if he took it seriously. I never thought he did. I didn't think it affected him."


Though Ecclestone doesn’t hold any formal role within F1 since he was eased out in the wake of Liberty Group’s takeover in 2017, he was made a Chairman Emeritus when he departed, while he remains a recognisable and influential figure associated with the sport even today.

As such, F1 has gone on to issue its own statement rebuking Ecclestone’s statements in an effort to distance him from both Liberty and the sport as a whole, adding his Chairman Emeritus role has already expired.

“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. 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.”