By Michelle R. Martinelli |
June 27, 2020 1: 54 pm
In the last several weeks, six-time Formula 1 World champion Lewis Hamilton has used his platform to call out the F1 industry for being silent in the wake of global protests against racial injustice following the George Floyd’s killing. He’s joined the protests, and he’s establishing a commission to increase the diversity in motor sports.
So it’s not surprising that the 35-year-old Mercedes driver slammed former F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone for comments he made to CNN recently.
While questioning whether Hamilton’s commission will have an impact on racing, the 89-year-old former F1 executive told CNN in an interview published Friday:
“I don’t think it’s going to do anything bad or good for Formula One,” he said.
“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 about White people.’
“In lots of cases, Black people are more racist than what White people are.”
As CNN noted in the story, it challenged Ecclestone’s argument and reported that he was unable to provide a concrete example to back his claim up. He said he’s just “noticed” it over the years.
Both Hamilton and F1 quickly responded to Ecclestone’s comments.
In his Instagram story, Hamilton started off by writing: “Damn, I just don’t even know where to start on this one.” Eventually, he posted a lengthy response and said:
“So sad and disappointing to read these comments.
Bernie is out of the sport and a different generation but this is 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.
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 the run of the sport for decades has such a lack of understanding of the deep routed 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 wold 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.”
Formula 1 also responded with a statement against Ecclestone’s comments, emphasizing that he is not involved in the sport anymore:
“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,” the statement read.
“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.”
F1 also noted that current Formula 1 Chairman and CEO Chase Carey personally contributed $1 million to the series’ new diversity and inclusion initiative.
In his Instagram story, Hamilton also posted photos from 2008 when fans in Spain taunted him while in blackface and wrote: “I remember this like it was yesterday. The damage things like this do to people is unacceptable.”
“I’m surprised that it concerns him,” said Ecclestone reflecting on the incident, adding that he never spoke to Hamilton himself, who was driving for McLaren at the time.
“I’m really unhappy if he took it seriously. I never thought he did. I didn’t think it affected him.
“I don’t know why the people did all of that anyway. Was it against him personally or what they thought?”