‘Disappointed’ Lewis Hamilton blasts Bernie Ecclestone’s views on racism

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PARIS — Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton has criticized “ignorant and uneducated” comments by former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone.

Hamilton, a six-time world champion and the only Black driver in F1, was shocked by Ecclestone’s claim during a Friday interview with broadcaster CNN that “in lots of cases, Black people are more racist” than white people.

“Damn, I just don’t even know where to start on this one … so sad and disappointing to read these comments,” Hamilton posted on Instagram. “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.”

BLM SUPPORT: Hamilton joins march

Ecclestone made his assertion when he was asked his opinion on Hamilton setting up

“I don’t think it’s going to do anything bad or good for Formula One. It will just make people think, which is more important,” Ecclestone replied. “People ought to think a little bit and say ‘what the hell’, somebody’s not the same as white people and that Black people should think the same about white people. Because I think in lots of cases, Black people are more racist than what white people are.”

Challenged to give evidence, Ecclestone replied: “Things over the years I’ve noticed and there’s no need for it.”

Hamilton recently attended a Black Lives Matter march in London. He has spoken widely about racism in recent weeks after saying he felt “so much anger, sadness and disbelief” following the killing of George Floyd – a handcuffed and unarmed Black man – by a police officer in Minneapolis last month.

“Lewis is a little bit special. First, he’s very, very, very talented as a driver and he seems to be now extremely talented when he’s standing up making speeches,” Ecclestone said. “This last campaign he’s doing for the Black people is wonderful. He’s doing a great job and it’s people (who are) easily recognizable that people listen to.”

F1 pledged to increase diversity in a white-dominated series by setting up an initiative called “We Race As One. ” F1 chairman Chase Carey followed up with a personal donation of $1 million.

Hamilton has spoken of abuse he received throughout his career, dating back to junior days in karting. In 2008 he was racially abused by fans at the Spanish Grand Prix near Barcelona. Some blacked up their faces while wearing black wigs and T-shirts with “Hamilton Family” written on them.

Ecclestone insisted Hamilton never had discussed this and was surprised Hamilton took offense.

“Well, he knows people have been against him because he said they have, but I’m surprised that it concerns him even,” Ecclestone said. “I’m really unhappy if he took it seriously, I never thought he did. I didn’t think it affected him.”

Ecclestone was evasive about whether he should have done more to condemn those incidents, considering he was in charge.

“Well, I think I did behind the scenes a little bit,” he said. “What else could you do?”

Asked if F1 should have done more over time to fight racism, Ecclestone replied “they’re too busy trying to win races or find sponsors, so really other things have little if any interest.”

Hamilton said those comments were indicative of a deep-seated problem.

“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,” Hamilton said. “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.”

F1 distanced itself from Ecclestone.

“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 F1 or society,” F1 said.

Supercross: Husqvarna’s Jalek Swoll and Malcolm Stewart out with injury

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Jalek Swoll and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna teammate Malcolm Stewart sustained injury in separate crashes late last week. Stewart missed Anaheim 2 and Swoll will not mount up for the 250 East season opener in Houston on February 4.

“Spent all of yesterday in the ER and today getting surgery so haven’t been able to make an update post,” Swoll posted on Instagram. “Spiral fractured my humorous yesterday and was lucky enough to get into surgery today. Absolutely heartbroken that I couldn’t show all the hard work me, [Mike Brown], [Aldon Baker], and [Joel Perez] were working on truly felt like this year was going to a big one with massive improvements we made but I guess it just wasn’t my time.”

The team announced on Instagram that Swoll underwent successful surgery to repair a broken bone in his arm, sustained in a practice crash on Friday. After missing the division opener, no further timeline has been given for his return.

Swoll made eight starts in the 250 West division last season with a best finish of fifth. In 2021, he scored his first SuperMotocross win in the outdoor Pro Motocross season at High Point Raceway in Mount Morris, Pennsylvania.

Stewart missed Anaheim 2 due to a practice injury. Likewise, the team did not announce a timetable for Stewart’s return.

He showed a lot of speed in the first two rounds before accidents eliminated him from contention in both rounds. He finished 16th at Anaheim 1 and 15th in San Diego, putting him in a points’ deficit that was already going to be difficult to overcome.

Stewart entered the 2023 season with a ton of confidence and believed all he needed was to stack his chips the right way to get this year’s championship.

Husqvarna is now represented by RJ Hampshire in the 250 West division and Christian Craig in 450s.

Hampshire had a rough weekend in Anaheim 2 and finished 11th in the overall standings after scoring a last place result in Race 2 with a bike sidelined by crash damage and a 13th in Race 3 after another fall.

Craig has not yet scored a top-10 on his 450 with a best of 11th at San Diego and Anaheim 2.

The news of these two injuries comes on the heels of the Pro Circuit Kawasaki team losing three of their four 250 riders.

Last week, Pro Circuit Kawasaki announced Seth Hammaker would miss the season opener with a wrist injury. Almost immediately, it was announced Jo Shimoda would also miss the 250 East opener with a shoulder injury.

Chris Blose will serve as a replacement rider in the 250 East division with Carson Mumford scheduled to replace the injured Austin Forkner in the West.