Former Formula One CEO Bernie Ecclestone is credited with transforming Formula One into a global, billion-dollar business with races in all corners of the world, but the sport he helped create has come under scrutiny following George Floyd’s death.
Lewis Hamilton, a six-time world champion and the first and only Black driver to compete in F1, has been very outspoken following Floyd’s death in Minneapolis last month. Hamilton has joined protests, set up The Hamilton Commission to increase diversity in motorsport and called out F1’s “biggest stars” for “staying silent … in the midst of injustice.”
Bernie Ecclestone does not think Lewis Hamilton’s efforts to encourage diversity in motorsport will have a tangible impact on F1 as he relayed to CNN.
“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 think about White people.’ In lots of cases, Black people are more racist than what White people are.”
“I don’t think you’re going to easily change people’s attitude. I think they need to start being taught at school. So, they grow up not having to think about these things.
“I think it’s completely stupid taking all these statues down. They should’ve left them there. Take the kids from school to look and say why they’re there and what the people did.”
Ecclestone still praised Hamilton’s decision to use his public platform to support the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Lewis is a little bit special,” Ecclestone added.
“First, he’s very, very, very talented as a driver and he seems to be now extremely talented when’s he standing up and making speeches.
“This last campaign he’s doing for the Black people is wonderful. He’s doing a great job and it’s people like that — easily recognisable — that people listen to.”
Hamilton went through a bit of hell himself in 2008 when a group of spectators wore wigs, dark make-up and t-shirts with the words “Hamilton’s family” written on them during a F1 test in Spain.
The incident happened while Ecclestone was in charge of the sport.
“I’m really unhappy if he took it seriously,” Ecclestone said. “I never thought he did. I didn’t think it affected him.”