Former Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has moved to defend his controversial comments from Friday, arguing he is not racist towards black people.
Telling CNN on Friday that “Black people are more racist than what White people are”, Ecclestone was quickly rebuked by both F1 itself and six-time champion Lewis Hamilton.
However in an interview with The Mail on Sunday, Ecclestone alleges he has been misunderstood.
‘I am not anti black people. Quite the opposite,” he said. “I have always been very much in favour. In fact, Lewis’s dad [Anthony] wanted to go into business with me.
“He made some nice rowing machines. I would never even have considered it if I had been anti-black. If the project had been right, I would have done it.
“Over the years, I have met a lot of white people I didn’t like, but never a black person I didn’t like.
“I’ve been mugged a couple of times, once by three black guys. I ended up in hospital, but even after that I was never against anyone who was black. I don’t think of Lewis as black or anything else. He’s just Lewis to me.”
“If a black person or a white person gets turned down for a job you have to ask why. Was it because of their skin colour, or was it because they weren’t up to the job? That is what I was saying.”
At the same time, Ecclestone reinforced that he does not support the protests associated with the Black Lives Matter movement, which Hamilton himself has taken part in.
“People go on these marches, organised by quasi-Marxists who want to bring down the police, which would be a disaster for the country. If you asked most of them what exactly they were protesting about they probably wouldn’t know.”
“It’s not my fault I am white, or that I am a little shorter than the next man. I was called Titch at school. I realised I had to do something about it. Black people should look after themselves.
“[Former McLaren boss] Ron Dennis didn’t stand in Lewis’ way when he was a boy. He looked after him. Willy T [Ribbs] was the first black man to drive an F1 car, for me, in the Seventies.
“When I lost my driving licence, I had a black driver, not because he was black, but because I didn’t care whether he was black or white. Now it’s suddenly fashionable to talk about diversity.”
In their response to Ecclestone’s original comments, F1 confirmed that his title expired in January, and while Ecclestone insists he is not concerned about losing it, he remains s
Additionally, Ecclestone suggests that he is unconcerned by the expiration of his title of ‘Chairman Emeritus’, and challenges F1 owners Liberty Media to follow through with their rumoured intention to ban him from races.
“Ban me from races? I wouldn’t advise them to do that. They might want to try it in Russia [where he enjoys a close relationship with president Vladimir Putin]. I think I could probably find a pass.
“When Chase [Carey, Liberty CEO] asked me to step down, he made a big thing about how important the title he was giving me was. People in America would kill for it, he told me.
“It didn’t matter to me. I’m not bothered about titles. I turned down something bigger in Britain. I was made a doctor by an English university (Imperial College London) 20 years ago. I don’t go around calling myself Dr Ecclestone.
“I’m glad he said I have no involvement in Formula One, so I can’t be credited with all the things they’ve not done. They have jumped on this racism thing suddenly because of events in America. Now Chase has put in all of $1 million — enough to get a mechanic into go-karting.
“Maybe he should concentrate on doing what the shareholders want. Covid was good for him. He could blame everything he hasn’t achieved on that.”