How one sentence undid Ecclestone's valid message for F1 & the world

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On Friday, Formula 1 was back in the public eye for the wrong reasons after comments made by former CEO Bernie Ecclestone to CNN.

The 89-year-old has always been known for his let's say old-fashioned views, whether it be his dictatorial approach to business, his support for authoritarians, notably his friendship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, or on society, having shunned social media as just a short-term fad.

So it was no surprise then that Ecclestone created controversy as he spoke about the current racial tensions after downplaying the impact of Lewis Hamilton's new Commission, aimed at increasing diversity in motorsport through creating opportunities.

"I don't think it's going to do anything bad or good for Formula 1," he told CNN. "It'll just make people think which is more important. I think that's the same for everybody.

"People ought to think a little bit and think: 'Well, what the hell. Somebody's not the same as white people and black people should think the same think about white people.'

"In lots of cases, black people are more racist than what white people are."

Of course, it was the last line that gained all the attention and soon led the current F1 management to distance themselves as far away as possible from their predecessor.

"At a time when unity is needed to tackle racism and inequality, we completely disagree with Bernie Ecclestone's comments that have no place in Formula 1 or society," a statement read.

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"Mr Ecclestone has played no role in Formula 1 since he left our organisation in 2017, his title Chairman Emeritus, being honorific, expired in January 2020."

The timing also couldn't have been worse for F1 after it launched the #WeRaceAsOne initiative as well as a new Task Force aimed at following Hamilton's lead of encouraging greater equality and diversity.

As for the Mercedes driver, he too later took to Instagram to respond to Ecclestone.

"Bernie is out of the sport and a different generation but this is exactly what is wrong - ignorant and uneducated comments which show us how far we as a society need to go before real equality can happen," he wrote.

"It makes complete sense to me now that nothing was said or done to make our sport more diverse or to address the racial abuse I received throughout my career.

"If someone who has run the sport for decades has such a lack of understanding of the deep-rooted issues we as black people deal with every day, how can we expect all the people who work under him to understand. It starts at the top."

The problem is, while what Ecclestone said may or may not be factually correct, it took away from what he later said which, in the broader push for equality, did make sense.

"[I'm] against injustice for anyone whatever colour they are, it's important to do something about that for a start," he said.

"I don't think you're going to easily change people's attitude. I think they need to start being taught at school. So, they grow up not having to think about these things."

Ecclestone also praised Hamilton for his ongoing activism through the Black Lives Matter movement, calling it "wonderful", and described Lewis himself as "a little bit special".

And as for any racial abuse the six-time champion has suffered during his F1 career, notably an incident in Spain in 2008 where fans dressed in blackface and wore t-shirts declaring to be his "family", Bernie admitted his lack of understanding.

"I'm really unhappy if he took it seriously," he said. "I never thought he did. I didn't think it affected him."

So while one sentence has seen the former F1 supremo once again labelled as the bad guy by most, and he should be criticised for his lack of action and intolerance over the years, much of what he said does apply both to the sport and the world in general.

In 2020, everyone should have an equal opportunity to the same balanced education and to achieve their dreams regardless of race, gender, religion or whatever demographic they choose.

Instead, they are often used to create division and distraction by the politicians to prevent the progression and change that's needed to benefit everyone.