Bernie Ecclestone could be BANNED from attending Formula One races as the sport he transformed slams the billionaire for claiming ‘in a lot of cases black people are more racist than white people’ amid Lewis Hamilton’s bid to improve diversity
- Formula One has distanced itself from former owner Bernie Ecclestone
- The billionaire made some shocking claims about racism on a CNN show
- The 89-year-old said he’s ‘surprised’ Lewis Hamilton was upset by racism
- The six-time F1 World Champion has endured abuse from fans in black face twice
- Former F1 chief executive says removing statues amid protests is ‘stupid’
Bernie Ecclestone was last night ostracised from Formula One for claiming in a television interview that ‘in a lot of cases black people are more racist than white people’.
The 89-year-old, who ran the sport as a personal fiefdom for four decades, was banished in a terse statement approved by Chase Carey, the American who replaced Ecclestone when Liberty Media took over in a £6billion deal in 2017.
Formula One said: ‘At a time when unity is needed to tackle racism and inequality, we completely disagree with Bernie Ecclestone’s comments, which have no place in Formula One or society.
Bernie Ecclestone said he was ‘surprised’ Lewis Hamilton was upset by racial abuse
Formula One boss Chase Carey approved a message distancing the sport from Ecclestone
The 89-year-old’s comments put him at odds with world champion Lewis Hamilton (right)
‘Mr Ecclestone has played no role in F1 since he left our organisation in 2017. His title of chairman emeritus, which was honorific, expired in January 2020.’
Sportsmail understands that if the period of Ecclestone’s nominal role had not lapsed, he would have been sacked from it following his comments on CNN, broadcast yesterday.
Ecclestone now faces the possible indignity of being banned from even attending races of the world championship series he transformed into a billion-dollar-a-year business by his extraordinary entrepreneurial zeal.
While many observers will support Liberty’s censure, others will decry their brusque and brutal judgment as ingratitude on a gigantic scale.
Six-time F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton on a Black Lives Matter march in London
Ecclestone is living for the moment in Switzerland with his 44-year-old Brazilian wife Fabiana Flossi, who is expecting his first son – after three daughters from two previous marriages – around the time of the opening races of the season, both in Austria, on July 5 and 12.
Ecclestone’s expulsion represents a remarkable flexing of power by Carey, 66, who has come down firmly on the side of Lewis Hamilton in the campaign for racial equality.
The six-time world champion has been grand prix racing’s most vocal advocate of black rights since African-American George Floyd was brutally killed by a white policeman in Minneapolis last month.
Hamilton joined a Black Lives Matter march in London on Sunday and promised to launch his own commission into racism, intended to foster greater diversity and to stamp out the kind of treatment he received in 2008, when Fernando Alonso-supporting fans in Spain blackened their faces.
Lewis Hamilton was taunted by fans at the Spanish Grand Prix in 2008 and again in 2009
But, when asked if F1 was racist, former supremo Ecclestone disagreed, saying: ‘No, not at all.
‘I get so upset about it (racism) because I don’t know why people are (racist).
‘I have never discussed it with Lewis. I am surprised he said people have been against him – they have because he says they have – but I wouldn’t think it would concern him.
‘In a lot of cases, black people are more racist than white people.’ Of the putative Hamilton Commission, Ecclestone said: ‘I don’t think it’s going to do any bad or good for Formula One. It’ll just make people think, which is more important.’
Crucially, the intervention came in the week Formula One launched their new inclusion and diversity campaign. Carey donated $1million of his own money towards the cause.
Ecclestone added: ‘Lewis is a little bit special. First, he’s very, very talented as a driver, and now he seems to be extremely talented when he is standing up making speeches.
‘The campaign he’s doing for black people is wonderful. He is easily recognisable and people listen to him.’ Hamilton, 35, told his social media followers that he supported the controversial removal of the statue in Bristol of slave trader and philanthropist Edward Colston. ‘Tear them down,’ he wrote.
But Ecclestone said: ‘It’s completely stupid taking these statues down. People need to be taught in schools.
Bernie Ecclestone made a series of shocking claims during an interview with CNN Sport
‘They should have left the statues there and taken all the kids from school to look and see why they’re there and what the people did and how wrong what they did was.’
Ecclestone has a history of making incendiary remarks, including professing admiration for Adolf Hitler, because ‘he was able to get things done’.
He has also hailed his friend, the Russian president Vladimir Putin, as a ‘good guy’, adding that he (Ecclestone) would ‘take a bullet for him’.
In 2005, Ecclestone caused consternation when he said: ‘Women should be dressed in white like all domestic appliances.’ Until now even most of the octogenarian’s detractors had shrugged their shoulders, and said: ‘It’s just Bernie being Bernie.’
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