Former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone says Black Lives Matter are USING Lewis Hamilton for money – and insists he would NOT allow drivers to take the knee and wear anti-racism T-shirts before races if he were still in charge
- Sir Lewis Hamilton has been leading Formula One’s fight for greater diversity
- He has been an ally to the Black Lives Matter movement and has taken a knee
- Ex-Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone said he would not have allowed it
- Ecclestone feels F1 is now ‘too political’ and Hamilton is being ‘used’ for money
Bernie Ecclestone has said he would ban Formula One drivers taking a knee before races and would stop them wearing anti-racism t-shirts on the podium.
In a wide-ranging interview ahead of the start of the 2021 F1 season, the 90-year-old motorsport mogul took aim at the politicisation of the sport.
He reiterated his stance that Formula One is not racist and he revealed his belief that Sir Lewis Hamilton is ‘being used’ by the Black Lives Matter movement.
Lewis Hamilton has been warned he is ‘being used’ by the Black Lives Matter movement for the purpose of generating money, in the opinion of ex-Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone
Ecclestone, 90, feels the sport is becoming too political and he would stop drivers from taking a knee before grands prix
Hamilton (fifth from right) taking a knee at the Styrian Grand Prix last year in support of the Black Lives Matter movement as others on the grid choose to stand
‘I’ve said to his father, “Lewis needs to be careful”. Because he’s being used by the people who are supporting this Black Lives Matter and they are taking a lot of money from it. And nobody knows where it goes,’ Ecclestone told the Telegraph.
‘If I’d still been around there wouldn’t have been anyone wearing [anti-racism] t-shirts on the podium, that’s for sure,
‘One hundred per cent, there wouldn’t have been this business of kneeling before races.’
Hamilton has previously called Ecclestone (left) ‘ignorant and uneducated’ for his comments
Hamilton promoted the Black Lives Matter movement throughout the 2020 campaign
Formula One bosses have already revealed the sport will continue to include a moment of reflection ahead of races.
Seven-time world champion Hamilton and the majority of the grid knelt in a staged message highlighting the fight against racism before all of last year’s grands prix.
However, the gesture proved divisive with a number of the 20 drivers, including Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, electing to stand.
‘They make a lot of fuss over things for the wrong reasons,’ he said of F1. ‘For political reasons.’
Ecclestone and Hamilton engaged in a public spat over the sport’s battle for diversity and racial equality last year.
Although some drivers elected not to take the knee, all of them wore anti-racism t-shirts
Hamilton, 36, previously called Ecclestone ‘ignorant and uneducated’ for his claims that there is no discrimination in the sport.
In response, Ecclestone has insisted Hamilton ‘misunderstood’ his view but he is ‘entitled to his opinion’ on the need for increased opportunities.
Hamilton who won BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year for 2020, highlighted the impact the Black Lives Matter movement has had on him.
‘I had this extra drive in me this year to get to the end of those races,’ he said in December.
‘It was a different drive than what I’ve had in me in the past. To get to the end of those races first so that I could utilise that platform [for Black Lives Matter] and shine the light as bright as possible.’
Ecclestone (left) and Hamilton (right) have a history in the sport but offer different opinions
Mercedes are continuing to support Hamilton in his bid to bring about change for minorities in motorsport.
The championship-winning team are to stick with their BLM-inspired black car livery for the 2021 season, which starts this weekend in Bahrain.
Ecclestone added that he is ‘delighted’ that Saudi Arabia has been added to the calendar for 2021, despite criticisms of its human rights record from Amnesty International.