PARIS: World champion Lewis Hamilton labelled Bernie Ecclestone as "ignorant and uneducated" on Friday after the former F1 supremo claimed that "black people are sometimes more racist than white".
Ecclestone, who was F1 supremo for four decades, had been asked to comment on Hamilton's recent anti-racism initiatives.
While praising the six-time world champion for his campaigning, 89-year-old Ecclestone doubted that the creation of the driver's Hamilton Commission, which hopes to steer more black youngsters into motor racing, will have any great effect.
"I don't think it's going to do anything bad or good for Formula One," he told CNN.
"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 about white people.'
"In lots of cases, black people are more racist than what white people are."
When challenged to elaborate, Ecclestone admitted he was unable to provide any evidence for his opinion, saying simply that he had "noticed" it over the years.
Hamilton, the only black driver on the grid, hit back at Ecclestone.
"Bernie is out of the sport and of a different generation but this is exactly what is wrong - ignorant and uneducated comments which show how far we as a society need to go before real equality can happen," Hamilton wrote on Instagram.
"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."
F1, which has come under fire from Hamilton for its lack of diversity, distanced itself from Ecclestone's remarks.
"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," it said in a statement.
"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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