Former Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has offered his support to Lewis Hamilton after the six-time world champion spoke out on racial injustice in light of the death of George Floyd.
Floyd’s death at the hands of the police in Minneapolis last week has led to wide scale protests around the world and Hamilton said it had left him “completely overcome with rage at the sight of such blatant disregard for the lives of our people”.
Hamilton is the only black driver competing in Formula 1 and has often been vocal about the lack of the diversity in the sport, and it seems Ecclestone has given the Brit his support.
“It is a good thing that Lewis does come out and the footballers and start talking and they should carry on doing so,” Ecclestone told AFP by phone from his home in Switzerland.
“As far as I am personally concerned, it is a great surprise to me it has taken so long for a black person to be so brutally killed to bring sports people’s attention to these things.”
Ecclestone went on to point out his own stand against racism in his dealings with apartheid-era South Africa.
“I pulled the race out of South Africa when there was apartheid, which was wrong and disgusting,” he explained. “I don’t see that racism has ever gone away. People have always not been very nice.”
At the same time, Ecclestone defended the decision to hold the 2012 Bahrain Grand Prix, despite human rights groups roundly criticising the country for its reaction to the Arab Spring.
“I argued in Bahrain and supported the people who were complaining they had been bullied or whatever,” he said.
“I met the person who was organising the protests and met with people who claimed to have been tortured.
“In this case they wanted to take over the country and that was not the case in South Africa nor now in the United States — quite the opposite.”