“What Bernie Ecclestone said is shocking and disgraceful. In his position in Formula One, and with the sway that he holds, for him to come out and say this . . . is very worrying and short-sighted. You would expect him to be protective of someone like Hamilton and use his authority to chastise these supporters. This will upset a lot of people, particularly young mixed-race and black males who are looking up to Hamilton and what he has achieved.”
“Fans blacking up in the stands was overt, old-school racism and that is still fresh in the memory. People are entitled to support who they want but that is no reason for racist abuse, which this clearly was,” red a statement from 'Kick It Out' group earlier today.
“The comments are shameful and disgraceful. Lewis Hamilton has made a colossal contribution to the country and the sport, and the sport has a duty of care to protect him and his family. Bernie Ecclestone is not fit to be in that environment and he should resign. There has to be zero tolerance. However successful Ecclestone is, it is clear he is out of touch with the 21st century. It is totally out of order, unacceptable and he should move over,” insisted Paul Elliot, representing the Football Against Racism campaign in Europe.
However, Bernie insisted his comments were not intended to harm anyone inside the sport – especially not Lewis – and argued that he is as much against racism as everybody in Formula 1.
“I was the one who pulled the Grand Prix out of South Africa [after 1985] in support of Nelson Mandela because of bloody apartheid before these people knew anything about racism. I said to the promoters in Barcelona, 'Let me go and get the people that blacked their faces up and bring them into the paddock and introduce them to Lewis and then see what they've got to say.' But the police said, 'Don't do it.' I personally was going to get them,” said Bernie to The Times.