Formula 1 has distanced itself from its former chief executive Bernie Ecclestone after he claimed “in many cases, black people are more racist than what white people are,” during an interview with CNN about racism in sport.

The sport’s governing body adopted a stance of opposition to the comments made by Ecclestone in an interview with CNN, in which he offered his thoughts on the current race debate taking place in the United States and beyond.

Talking about six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton’s activism to promote diversity in motorsport, Ecclestone praised the sport’s only ever black world champion, calling him “special.”

“Lewis is a little bit special,” Ecclestone told CNN Sport’s Amanda Davies. “First, he’s very, very, very talented as a driver and he seems to be now extremely talented when’s he standing up and can make speeches.

“This last campaign he’s doing for black people is wonderful. He’s doing a great job and it’s people like that, easily recognizable, that people listen to.”

Ecclestone, however, claimed he thought Hamilton’s campaign wouldn’t do much to change Formula One for better or worse, before making the statement: “In lots of cases, black people are more racist than what white people are,” later adding he was “surprised” that Hamilton took offense in an incident where he was confronted by fans in ‘blackface’ in Spain in 2008.

I’m surprised that [the blackface in Spain] concerns [Hamilton]. I’m really unhappy if he took it seriously. I never thought he did. I didn’t think it affected him,” Ecclestone said.

His words were deemed objectionable by the current Formula 1 governing body, who released a statement in which they rejected Ecclestone’s comments.

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,” the statement reads.

F1 issues a statement following recent comments made by Bernie Ecclestone

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 sports body’s response to Ecclestone’s comments comes amid a global discussion concerning racial issues and sport. Briton Hamilton has been vocal in his stance that the sport must do more in its efforts to hit back at racism, setting up The Hamilton Commission, a new research partnership aimed at making motorsport more diverse.