WATCH: F1 banishes Bernie over race storm
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. 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 following his comments on CNN, broadcast yesterday.
Ecclestone now faces the possible indignity of being banned from attending races of the world championship series he transformed into a billion-dollar-a-year business by his extraordinary entrepreneurial zeal.
Ecclestone is living in Switzerland with his 44-year-old wife Fabiana Flosi, who is expecting his first son — after three daughters from two marriages — around the time of the season’s opening races, both in Austria, on July 5 and 12.
Ecclestone’s expulsion represents a flexing of power by Carey, 66, who has firmly backed Lewis Hamilton in the campaign for racial equality.
Six-time world champion Hamilton 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.
But, when asked if F1 was racist, former supremo Ecclestone said: ‘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.’
The intervention came in the week Formula One launched their inclusion and diversity campaign, with Carey donating $1million 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 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 of slave trader and philanthropist Edward Colston in Bristol. ‘Tear them down,’ he wrote. But Ecclestone said: ‘It’s completely stupid taking these statues down. People need to be taught in schools. They should have taken kids from school to 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, 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.’Daily Mail