Lewis Hamilton has called for Formula One ‘grandees’ – such as Bernie Ecclestone and Sir Jackie Stewart – to be silenced, saying ‘enough is enough’ after Nelson Piquet’s racial slur.
The seven-time world champion was responding to Piquet calling him a variant of the n-word and Ecclestone’s defence of Vladimir Putin as a ‘first-class person’. Stewart said last week that Hamilton, 37, should retire.
Speaking during the toxic build-up to Sunday’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone, Hamilton said: ‘I don’t know why we are continuing to give these older voices a platform.
‘They are speaking for our sport, but we are looking to go somewhere different and they are not representative of who we are now and where we are planning to go.
‘If we are looking to grow our audiences in the US and South Africa we need to be giving the younger people a platform. They are more representative of today’s time and who we are trying to be. It is not just about one individual, or the use of that term, but the bigger picture.
Lewis Hamilton, pictured left, arriving at Silverstone today ahead of this weekend’s British Grand Prix and right at a press conference today, has questioned why ‘older voices’ are being given a platform amid an ongoing racism storm in Formula 1
In a bizarre interview on Good Morning Britain, former Formula 1 owner Bernie Ecclestone, 91, branded 69-year-old dictator Vladimir Putin a ‘first-class person’ and ‘sensible’
‘These older voices, subconsciously or consciously, do not agree people like me should be in this sport. Discrimination should not be projected.
‘I don’t think in the last couple of weeks a day has gone by where some of the older people who are not in our sport or have not been relevant in our sport for decades have tried to say negative things and bring me down, but I am still here and still standing strong and trying to do my work and pushing diversity.’
Ecclestone, 91, ran Formula One for four decades, turning it into a multi-billion-dollar business before losing day-to-day control in 2017, when Liberty Media bought the business.
Speaking on ITV’s Good Morning Britain yesterday, Ecclestone said he would ‘take a bullet’ for Putin, with whom he grew friendly arranging the Russian Grand Prix in 2014.
As for Stewart, 83, he recently said: ‘It’s time to resign. He’s got music, he’s got culture, he loves clothing, and the rag trade would be absolutely suitable for him.
‘I’m sure he’ll be very successful because he’s been earning a huge amount of money – rightfully so because he’s been the best of his time.’
Nelson Piquet, speaking on a Brazilian podcast (pictured) about an incident between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton at Silverstone last year, has been heavily criticised for a racist remark aimed at the Briton. Piquet has since come out to claim the wording had no racial intent
Hamilton also hit out at Bernie Eccleston and Sir Jackie Stewart in the build-up to the British Grand Prix
Comments from another triple world champion Piquet, 69, came to light earlier this week in which he referred to Hamilton as a ‘neguinho’, a Portuguese term which can be translated as ‘n*****’. Piquet apologised and claimed it was a colloquial and inoffensive phrase. But Formula One Group, the sport’s commercial rights holders banned him for life.
They have not sought to ban Ecclestone, though they distanced themselves strongly from his remarks yesterday, saying: ‘The comments made by Bernie Ecclestone are his personal views and are in very start contrast to the modern values of our sport.’
Hamilton continued: ‘I am incredibly grateful to all of those who have been supportive within the sport, particularly the drivers.
Lewis Hamilton told a press conference before this weekend’s British Grand Prix that Nelson Piquet and Bernie Ecclestone are ‘not representative of who we are now in the sport’
‘It has been two years since many of us took the knee at the first race in Austria, and we are still faced with challenges.
‘I have been on the receiving end of racism and criticism and archaic narratives for a long time and undertones of discrimination, so there is nothing particularly new for me.’ Referring to Ecclestone’s interview, Hamilton added: ‘There needs to be some accountability. You know what you are going to get with that and I don’t know what GMB’s goal is, if they were seeking to create and divide here in the UK.
‘We don’t need any more of it, to hear from someone that believes in the war, and the displacement of millions of people and killing of thousands people, and supports that person [Putin] who is doing that.
‘It is beyond me. I cannot believe I heard that today. It is affecting all those people out there and all people around the world. This is going to put us back decades, and we have yet to see the real brunt of the pain.’