Lewis Hamilton calls Bernie Ecclestone ‘ignorant and uneducated’ over racism

Lewis Hamilton slammed chief Bernie Ecclestone as 'ignorant and uneducated' following the former Formula One chief's comments about racism.

Ecclestone, who is no longer involved in F1, gave an extraordinary interview in which he downplayed concerns over racism within the sport – and said "in many cases black people are more racist than white people".

Hamilton has previously criticised his sport for failing to combat racism, and referenced issues he has faced since his junior karting days.

And the six-times F1 champion has said Ecclestone's comments are "sad and disappointing" and "show how far we as a society need to go before real change can happen".

Hamilton, the reigning champion since 2017, took to Instagram to respond to the 89-year-old's comments.

The 35-year-old posted: "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."

Hamilton added: "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 a 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."

Ecclestone had questioned whether Hamilton's vocal support for the Black Lives Matter movement would make any difference.

In an interview with CNN, Ecclestone, who stepped down as chief executive in 2017, also said he was "surprised" to hear Hamilton had been affected by racist issues in the sport.

Ecclestone said: "In lots of cases black people are more racist than what white people are.

"(It's just) things over the years that I've noticed, and there's no need for it. I'm against injustice for anyone, whatever colour they are. It's important to do something about that for a start."

Hamilton had spoken out against racism issues within F1 in the wake of the death of George Floyd in police custody in the United States.

He specifically referred to an incident in Barcelona in 2008 when a group of fans dressed up in blackface and aimed derogatory chants towards him – something Ecclestone claims he had "never" discussed.

Ecclestone said: "(We) never needed to. I'm really unhappy if he took it seriously because I never thought he did. I never thought it affected him."

Of Hamilton's campaign against racism, Ecclestone added: "I don't think it is going to do anything bad or good for Formula One. It just makes people think, which is more important.

"They're too busy trying to win races or find sponsors – really other things have little or (no) interest.

"The number of people that are directly involved in the sport are such a small number they can do very little – I'm surprised if anyone in Formula One, certainly the teams and the promoters, have any concern about this."

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Ecclestone's comments come in a week in which F1 chiefs launched a new #WeRaceAsOne initiative, aimed at fostering diversity and inclusion in the sport, to which the sport's current chief executive Chase Carey personally contributed $1million.

F1 was quick to distance itself from Ecclestone's comments, saying: "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."

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