Prior to the start of the 2020 Formula 1 season, Bernie Ecclestone had made controversial statements about the role of ethnic minorities in sport and in society in general.
Firstly during the summer of last year, although praising Lewis Hamilton for the work done in inequality, he did mention in the press that in his opinion “Black people are more racist than what White people are.”
These comments were condemned by Formula One, and the British Man was no longer associated in any way with the sport.
During the season, the “End Racism” movement was widely observed by the drivers who met before the start of the Grand Prix to express their desire to fight racism, by wearing a message on their T-shirt or by getting down on one knee.
In an interview with GQ magazine, which presented him with a lifetime achievement award in 2021, Bernie Ecclestone returned to this controversy.
“Sometimes I express things in such a way that they are not understood as I would like them to be. ” Ecclestone explains.
“Sometimes I’ve found myself in complicated situations. But I take people as they are.
“It does not matter what colour they are, whether they are male or female, their religion or nationality, rich or poor, or their political opinion. ”
The pre-Grand Prix ritual of the drivers is a good thing according to the former Formula 1 boss, even if he believes that the problem of racism in the world is not new.
“A few years ago [in 2016], there was an American footballer [Colin Kaepernick] who used to kneel before matches. He used to kneel before games,” Ecclestone explains.
“The authorities happened to be very angry about it. One or two Formula One drivers talked about it but, clearly, they didn’t do it. They didn’t get down on their knees.
“They said they were asked not to. They didn’t say who asked them not to do it.
“And it wasn’t me. I was already out of Formula 1 at that time.
“I don’t see what’s different this year. These horrible things that are happening in America have been happening for many years, for decades.
“I guess it’s a good thing that people have been informed about what’s going on. I hope it makes a difference. ” concludes Ecclestone.
As part of their commitment to fighting racism, Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes announced this week that they have set up a joint charitable foundation to support greater diversity in sport.