Ecclestone: 'In lots of cases, Black people are more racist than white people'

Bernie Ecclestone spoke of his admiration for Lewis Hamilton but said he did not believe the Hamilton Commission would bring about meaningful change in the sport. Charles Coates/Getty Images

Former Formula One CEO Bernie Ecclestone does not think Lewis Hamilton's efforts to encourage diversity in motorsport will have a tangible impact on F1.

Hamilton, F1's only Black driver and its reigning champion, has been outspoken in his support of the Black Lives Matter movement in recent weeks.

As well as talking openly about the racist abuse he received as a child and early in his F1 career when Ecclestone was in charge of the sport, Hamilton announced plans last week to set up the Hamilton Commission to drive diversity in motorsport.

Ecclestone, who has not been involved in the running of F1 since it was purchased by current owners Liberty Media in 2017, spoke of his admiration for Hamilton in an interview with CNN, but said he did not believe the Hamilton Commission would bring about meaningful change in the sport.

"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."

Pressed on whether he felt there was a need to stand up against racial injustice, Ecclestone said he was, "against injustice for anyone whatever colour they are, it's important to do something about that for a start.

"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."

Yet Ecclestone 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 faced racial abuse during a F1 test in Spain in 2008 when a group of spectators wore wigs, dark makeup and T-shirts with the words "Hamilton's family" written on them.

The incident happened while Ecclestone was in charge of the sport, but the former F1 boss said he was not aware of the impact it had on Hamilton, who was 23 at the time.

"I'm really unhappy if he took it seriously," Ecclestone said. "I never thought he did. I didn't think it affected him."

This week, F1 announced the launch of its #WeRaceAsOne campaign and Ecclestone's successor, Chase Carey, donated $1 million of his own money to build a task force aimed at increasing diversity in F1.