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F1 chief blasts racists as `third-rate people`.

In the wake of the storm that was whipped up by remarks he made suggesting racist abuse aimed at newly-crowned Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton was merely 'a joke', Bernie Ecclestone has sought to clarify his comments by insisting that 'anyone who does this sort of thing…are third-rate people'.

The sport's commercial rights-holder – who played a part in Hamilton's graduation to F1 with McLaren-Mercedes last year – had seemed to brush off obscene insults written about the 23-year-old on a Spanish 'voodoo-style' website entitled Pincha la Rueda de Hamilton (Burst Hamilton's Tyre) as 'nonsense' and 'probably meant as a joke', adding that he didn't 'think it had anything to do with racism' [see separate story – click here].

It was the second such incident in F1 in 2008, after Hamilton – the sport's youngest and first-ever black title-winner – had found himself on the receiving end of jeers and taunts during a test in Barcelona back in February, from spectators wearing black make-up and clad in T-shirts with 'Hamilton's Family' written on the front and 'Alonso No. 1' on the back, in reference to former team-mate and bitter rival Fernando Alonso.

The Stevenage-born ace, however, clearly disagreed with Ecclestone's appraisal [see separate story – click here], and anti-racism groups such as Kick It Out were also quick to condemn the Formula One Management chief, believing his words were tantamount to condoning such actions.

Leading anti-racism campaigner Paul Elliot even went so far as to argue that Ecclestone 'should resign' as a consequence of what he had said. Referring to the Barcelona episode in particular, however, the 77-year-old told the BBC that the 'joke' remark had been misconstrued.

“I meant they were a joke, clowns,” he explained. “I've spoken with Lewis' dad Anthony and he understands; everything's fine.

“I deal with Lewis and his dad all the time. We are good friends and I play cards with Anthony. I have even had many black people come up and shake my hand and thank me for helping Lewis get into F1.

“People should remember I was the one who pulled F1 out of South Africa in support of Nelson Mandela because of apartheid before these people knew anything about racism, so no one can say I am against black people.

“I've dealt with people all over the world for many years and I have no feeling with regard to religion, race, colour, creed or whatever.



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Tim Burr - Unregistered

November 08, 2008 10:24 AM

Sunny,despite your obvious anti-British statements which you continue to make ,there is one thing I find odd and that is with your name being possibly Indian,certainly Asian,you still side with those making racist comments.I would have thought you would have been pleased to see so many comments supporting an anti-racist stance?This leaves me to believe that your name is false and that you are in fact European hiding behind this name! Certainly on any forum I have ever visited I have never seen anyone whose views are so out of line with the overwhelming majority.I think you are nothing but a wind up merchant!!!



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