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Lewis Hamilton says Bernie Ecclestone comments on race ‘ignorant’

Ex-Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone walks down the paddock at the 2019 Austrian Grand Prix
Bernie Ecclestone was the boss of Formula 1 until 2017

Lewis Hamilton says Bernie Ecclestone is “ignorant and uneducated” after the ex-Formula 1 boss made comments about racism.

Ecclestone, 89, told CNNexternal-link that “in lots of cases, black people are more racist than what white people are”.

Six-time world champion Hamilton, 35, said Ecclestone’s remarks were “sad and disappointing”.

He added they demonstrated “how far we as a society need to go before real equality can happen”.

Hamilton, writing on Instagram, said: “Bernie is out of the sport and a different generation but this is exactly what is wrong.

“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 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.”

Hamilton’s post came after F1 rejected Ecclestone’s remarks and emphasised that he has “no role” in the sport.

F1 said in a statement that it “completely disagreed” with Ecclestone and that his comments “have no place in F1 or society”.

It added that Ecclestone’s former role of chairman emeritus, given to him in 2017, “expired in January 2020”.

F1 has launched an equality and diversity taskforce to increase opportunity for minority groups.

Ecclestone was removed from his position as chief executive of F1 when US group Liberty Media bought the commercial rights to the sport in January 2017.

The remarks are the latest in a series of provocative and controversial comments from Ecclestone on race in recent years.

And they come at an especially sensitive time for F1, which has made it clear it stands by and backs world champion Hamilton’s support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

Hamilton has been outspoken on the topic, saying he had been “completely overcome with rage” at events in the US, where the death of the African-American man George Floyd in police custody last month after an officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes led to protests around the world.

The Mercedes driver has said that he has been the subject of racism himself throughout his career, and referenced a time in 2007 when fans turned up in black face at a circuit.

Ecclestone told CNN that he felt a commission set up by Hamilton to increase diversity in motorsport was not “going to do anything bad or good for Formula 1; it’ll just make people think, which is more important”.

Ecclestone said he “didn’t know” Hamilton had been subjected to racism and that he had “never needed” to discuss it with him, adding: “I’m surprised that it concerns him even.”

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