F1 criticises Ecclestone as he defends Piquet’s Hamilton comments and Putin’s war

2022 F1 season

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A Formula 1 spokesperson has said comments made by the series’ former CEO Bernie Ecclestone about Nelson Piquet and Russian president Vladimir Putin “are in very stark contrast to position of the modern values of our sport.”

Ecclestone was asked for his view on his former driver following criticism of racist language used by Piquet in reference to Lewis Hamilton which came to light recently.

“I’ve known Nelson for an awful long time – a couple of weeks ago I was with him,” Ecclestone told ITV. “And it’s not the sort of thing Nelson would say meaning something bad. Very often these things get said.”

Piquet won two of his three world championships with Ecclestone’s Brabham team in the eighties. He made his F1 debut in 1978, the same year he won a British Formula 3 championship title.

“He’s Brazilian,” Ecclestone continued, “when he came to England he didn’t speak any English so he probably picked up the English sense of humour and he probably thinks lots of things that he says which might upset us and we might feel a little bit offensive, to him is nothing. It’s just part of conversation. But Nelson would never go out of his way to say anything bad, certainly.”

The comments Piquet made about Hamilton, which are understood to have led to him being barred from the Formula 1 paddock, were made late last year in a discussion around the Mercedes’ drivers collision with Max Verstappen at last year’s British Grand Prix.

“I think what probably happened, knowing Nelson as I know him, as his daughter is the girlfriend of Max Verstappen, probably after seeing the accident he probably exploded then and sort of carried that forward,” said Ecclestone.

“I know his feelings because I was alone, I exploded. I didn’t say anything, obviously, because [there] wouldn’t have been any point, there was nobody here to hear my reaction to that.

“So that’s probably what his problem was: He was upset with the accident, thinking it was wrong and probably thinking it was Lewis’s fault. I did as well as it happens. But anyway, that’s probably what he thought. He probably exploded about that.”

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Ecclestone suspects Piquet’s comments would not be considered racially offensive in Brazil. “It’s probably not appropriate with us but probably it isn’t it something terrible that happens if you said that in Brazil,” he said. “I don’t know what the reaction is there.

“But I mean, people say things and people talk about people if they happen to be a little bit overweight or a little bit under-sized like me, I’m quite sure a lot of people have made remarks about that. If I had heard it, I’d have been to deal with it myself without too much trouble.”

“I’m surprised that Lewis hasn’t sort of just brushed it aside or, better than that, replied,” Ecclestone added. “But he’s now come out and Nelson’s apologised so everybody seems or should be happy.”

Hamilton said Piquet’s comments show that “these archaic mindsets need to change”. He added: “There has been plenty of time to learn. Time has come for action.”

However Ecclestone, who is married to the FIA’s vice president for the South American region Fabiana Ecclestone, said he did not see what action could be taken.

“I don’t know what you can do about stopping people saying something that at the time would appear to be appropriate to them and may not be in reality,” he said. “You can’t start making rules of what people can say and can’t say, and I don’t know what sort of reaction he is expecting.”

Ecclestone was also asked for his views on Vladimir Putin, who he has praised on many past occasions. He awarded Russia a grand prix in 2014 while he was still in charge of F1, but the race’s contract was cancelled after Putin sent troops into Ukraine in February.

Thousands of lives have been lost since the Russian invasion of Ukraine 127 days ago. Ecclestone claimed Putin’s invasion “wasn’t intentional” and claimed Ukraine could have done more to avoid the conflict.

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“It wasn’t intentional to be a war. And I’m quite sure Ukraine, if they had wanted to get out of it properly, could have done.”

Throwing his weight fully behind Putin, Ecclestone added: “I’d still take a bullet for him. I’d rather it didn’t hurt, but if it does I’d still take a bullet because he’s a first-class person.

“What he’s doing is something that he believed was the right thing he was doing for Russia. Unfortunately, he’s like a lot of business people, certainly like me, that we make mistakes from time to time. And when you’ve made a mistake, you have to do the best you can to get out of it.”

He also took issue with sporting bodies which have barred Russian competitors. The FIA requires Russian and Belarussian licence holders to compete as neutrals, but Russian F3 driver Alexander Smolyar is unable to participate in this weekend’s race at Silverstone due to what his team claimed were “visa issues”.

Ecclestone said it was wrong to bar Russians sportspeople from competitions. “I’m not in the position now to have done anything about that,” he said.

“I’m not sure I would have stopped that and I certainly now wouldn’t and I think it’s wrong to stop Russian athletes, including obviously drivers, taking part in their sport. They didn’t get involved in this in the first place. They shouldn’t be punished.”

Formula 1 has previously distanced itself from the former CEO, who was replaced five years ago. In 2020 it declared Ecclestone’s emeritus position in the sport had expired and strongly criticised claims he made about racism among black people.

It rejected Ecclestone’s latest remarks, saying: “The comments made by Bernie Ecclestone are his personal views and are in very stark contrast to position of the modern values of our sport.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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47 comments on “F1 criticises Ecclestone as he defends Piquet’s Hamilton comments and Putin’s war”

  1. Here we go again

  2. I can only assume sniffing all those F1 exhaust fumes for all those decades has completely destroyed any empathic part of Ecclestone’s brain at some point or another, because honestly, the alternative is that he actively chooses to be this way and somehow that’s even worse.

    1. He’s just an old man who has lost his place in the world so he shouts obnoxious things hoping to see himself in the headlines again. I guess for that brief moment when he sees his name in print, it’s like the good old days again when he was relevant and important but alas, that moment soon passes and he realises he’s now just an irrelevant, pathetic old man of no importance living out his final days before he’s gone forever and everyone quickly forgets he ever existed.

  3. Class act as always, Mr Ecclestone.

    Can’t wait for Vladimir Vladimirovich to realize the error of his ways and be a “first-class” “business person” about it.

  4. Is there any way that his comments can be taken to make him a Russian Oligarch? I know some non Russian nationals have been sanctioned due to their political position being aligned with Russian money.

    Him getting his assets frozen and a travel and media ban would be one of the highlights of my life.

    1. Dude, you need to live more to get some better highlights.

      1. He did his very best to ruin the only sport I follow, that has provided me with hundreds of fantastic experiences all over the world, for his own personal gain.
        It would be a highlight to see him bought down.

        1. So your personal gain is more important than his personal gain, @sham?

          Have you ever wondered if you would have been able to have all those wonderful experiences following the sport if he hadn’t controlled it the way he did…?

        2. Guess what? The only sport you loved was created by the man himself.

    2. Him getting his assets frozen

      I’m sure his mate Vlad could arrange a winter lake swim in one of his Siberian getaway villas to achieve that laudable aim.

  5. He’s just an old man who has his place in the world

    Fixed.
    It might not be your place, but it’s certainly his. Everyone is free to not visit his place.

  6. The first half seemed pretty reasonable and some good points. When he got onto the subject of Putin/Russia it does not come across well…

  7. Eeuuhh Is this man serious….. what a fruitcake!

  8. Maybe we can finally get a FIA ban for that dinosaur as well. At the very least I would hope Brundle stops trying to interview him on the grid when he comes across him. He is a narcissist and putting him on TV without challenging his disgusting ideas only feeds that ego more.

    1. @g-funk A dinosaur cull, sounds good. If Ecclestone wanted to help Piquet, this intervention must be the diametric opposite.

      1. @david-br. Exactly. Bernie totally undermines his defense of Piquet not intending to be racist when in the same interview he says Putin didn’t intend to invade Ukraine. Both of them clearly knew what they were doing and any defense of their actions is such an obvious attempt at gaslighting that it could almost be seen as satire if they weren’t serious in their attempts. Piquet is in a worse position today because of Bernie’s interview than he was yesterday and who would have thought that was even possible given how widespread the well-deserved condemnation has been?

        1. @g-funk Yeah I really cannot think of a single reason why BE shouldn’t have the same paddock ban that Piquet has received, and akin to RBR dropping Vips. Not one.

  9. So I guess invading another country is the same kind of ‘unintentional’ as packing a gun in your holiday suitcases…

    1. Jeez.
      Wasn’t intentional!
      That’s okay then I guess. Just let the guy off the hook. He didn’t mean it. He was doing what he thought was best!

      This was the most ridiculous defence for this war from anyone, including russian media.
      Not only because these parts contradict each other.

      I guess Bernie indeed doesn’t care what kind of publicity he gets, as he suggested in the bit published here a day or two ago.
      Cos I can’t believe he’s that stupid.

  10. He always was a detestable little joke of a man.

    He is not improving with age.

  11. Brendon willey
    30th June 2022, 14:01

    Where is the F1 website that gives us racing news and leaves out the politics? It used to be this one.

  12. Couldn’t agree more. Can the world stop whining about this? Vlad didn’t do it on purpose, and once he realizes he made a mistake it’ll all be fixed.

  13. Senile old rhymes-with-James-Hunt.
    Oops sorry Bernard, did I say something inappropriate? You’ll accept that I didn’t realise, I’m sure.

    1. Doesn’t seem intentional to me. Just a simple business mistake.

  14. I honestly believe that the world would be a better place without Bernie..

    1. Yep, time to flush this turd from the genepool

  15. Since Bernie was very respectfully moved on Formula 1 has grown exponentially. That says it all.

    1. And yet satisfaction in the running of F1 has reduced over that same period….

      1. S Has it? Not for me, taking all things overall into consideration.

        1. It has become a terrible woke circus ever since the yanks took over.

        2. Exactly. F1 under Bernie was a washed up decaying old man’s event.

          Rolex banners all over the place to appeal to a handful of people only, no presence on internet an not any consideration to the younger audiences because they have no “buying power”.

          Bernie was fundamental in the past, but he is completely outdated now and it was fundamental for F1 for him to step away. Should’ve done that at least 10 years earlier as well.

        3. Me neither @Robbie. People say he created F1 but I’m pretty sure there were fans of the sport when he was just a team owner and even before that. Regardless of what anyone thinks of his contribution to the sport (and it wasn’t charity by the way), that doesn’t give him a free pass to praise someone responsible for the deaths of thousands, uprooting of millions from their homes and such massive destruction of property.

  16. Unbelievable how a 91 year old man is much more sane than what it looks like the whole world. Media is dangerously repressive, people are prejudice, they don’t want to think for themselves, they want to point fingers ad label people for… Pointing fingers and labelling.

    1. Exactly.

    2. take a look at a globe and you’ll see the country NIGER in Africa.

      That’s where the hateful word comes from, it originates from the slave trade so naturally Black people take great offense to it.

      Piquet apparently is now saying the N word is a word used to describe all peaople – last I looked, not every Brazilian is black. He’s trying to worm his way out of it.

      Piquet has always been like this, it’s nothing new, the only difference is someone hunted down an interview with a racial slur over 6 months later. it does not make it right.

      But it should also not be used as a tool which Sky F1 will be doing as soon as they get on air.

      They talk about equal rights, i’d love to know how much the difference of pay there is with Naomi compared to Racheal or Natalie.

  17. I’m starting to suspect Ecclestone has the same IQ as an Eccles cake

    1. :D Though arguably an Eccles cake is more au fait with currant attitudes.

      1. Very good haha

  18. The right to free speech is the hallmark of a civilized society. So that’s Bernie’s view of the matter. I’m with him in the first part of his opinion (the Piquet-Hamilton), but not on the Putin matter. One of the reasons I don’t like Hamilton is because he takes anything negative that’s said about him or happens to him as a part of a giant scheme of things to bring him down. The title loss last year and now this incident which he has cleverly leveraged to win the sympathy of people. The fans and media so easily fall prey to it, and it probably has to do with the fact that he is British. I am perfectly entitled to my opinion, even it means swimming against the current of hypocrisy. Hamilton could have nearly killed Verstappen with that reckless move, but still he’s always the angel.

    1. The right to free speech is not unfettered: https://www.ohchr.org/en/instruments-mechanisms/instruments/international-covenant-civil-and-political-rights

      All persons are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection of the law. In this respect, the law shall prohibit any discrimination and guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection against discrimination on any ground such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

      Have you seen/heard the reaction from Brazil – where people speak the language Piquet was using in the interview – over the matter? You will find that they feel, mostly, that Piquet was being offensive in his remarks.

  19. Broccoliface
    30th June 2022, 17:04

    What an absolute madman. Not that the current owners are much better, under the PR veneer.

  20. I hear Putin has raised the age limit for recruits to account for combat losses so perhaps Ecclestone will have his opportunity.

  21. I cant wait to get back to racing.

  22. Surprises me zero. Bernie is not precissely knows as an altruist preoccupied by the social problems.

    He can have whatever opinion he wants and express it, like everyone else.

    The problem here is when someone puts a microphone in front of him and airs his comments as if they should matter to us or have some kind of relevance.

  23. Ecclestone refresher course: this is the man who back in 2009 said:

    In a lot of ways, terrible to say this I suppose, but apart from the fact that Hitler got taken away and persuaded to do things that I have no idea whether he wanted to do or not, he was in the way that he could command a lot of people, able to get things done

    and that racist comments against, wait for it, Lewis Hamilton

    started as just a joke

    Seems dismissing racism and excusing the actions of his favourite murderous autocrats from history 101 are all part of the same stream of consciousness going on inside the Ecclestone mind-world. Maybe someone could stick a hazard label on him: ‘Best Not Interviewed.’

  24. Well he’s clearly never done any workplace inclusivity training…

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