Lewis Hamilton is an influencer. He can influence fashion; he can influence young boys and girls to want to start racing; he can influence his teammate Nico Rosberg to go to the very edge to be able to beat him and in recent weeks he has influenced many F1 drivers to comment on the Black Lives Matter and no doubt was crucial in Formula One choosing to launch the ‘We Race as One’ initiative. Lewis Hamilton knows how much of a role he has when it comes to educating people and setting a standard which he knows he will be held accountable to. Therefore, following Bernie Ecclestone’s recent remarks that "In lots of cases, Black people are more racist than what White people are." You can be sure the 6-time f1 World Champion would have something to say on the matter.
Following a highly controversial CNN interview featuring Bernie Ecclestone, Formula 1 was quick to release a statement making clear that they ‘completely disagree’ with Ecclestone’s views.
Lewis Hamilton used his social media to share his thoughts on the comments spoken by the former F1 supremo. First, his Instagram story had a simple evocative sentence of: ‘Damn I just don’t even know where to start on this one.’ which preceded the CNN interview article and then the Instagram story slide shared Lewis Hamilton’s full statement:
"It's hugely sad and disappointing to read statements like this. Bernie is no longer in the sport and comes from a different generation, but that's exactly what's not right. Ignorant and uneducated statements that show how far we have to go as a society before we can get real equality.
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.
Now is the time to change. I won't stop continuing to create a sport with equal opportunities for all. To create a world of equal opportunity for minorities. I will continue to make my voice heard for those who are under-represented to give a chance in our sport,"
Bernie Ecclestone had also commented to The Times in recent weeks about the despicable blackface abuse experienced by Lewis Hamilton at Spain in 2008 saying:
"I'm surprised that it concerns him…I'm really unhappy if he took it seriously. I never thought he did. I didn't think it affected him. I don't know why the people did all of that anyway. Was it against him personally or what they thought?"
Lewis Hamilton’s Instagram story shared the abusive images again today with the caption: “I remember this like it was yesterday. The damage things like this do to people is unacceptable.”
Lewis Hamilton’s post is just one of many criticising the comments of Bernie Ecclestone and a quick glance to social media showed Damon Hill is aware of the condemnation headed the way of Ecclestone as he retweeted Sky Sports News’ article on the CNN comments with the message: “From the safety of his nuclear bunker in Switzerland.”
There will of course be many keyboard warriors claiming that such a response by Liberty Media and then Lewis Hamilton shows the erosion of free speech as the fallout from Ecclestone’s comments has already begun. This is nonsense though because whether claiming free speech or not, the first thing to remember is the message we get taught from the youngest age and sadly one that so many people forget as they get older: If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing.
In the coming days (if not hours) Bernie Ecclestone may find himself wishing he had remembered such a playground lesson.