BERNIE ECCLESTONE has controversially claimed Lewis Hamilton is being used by Black Lives Matter – and says he would ban the F1 champ from taking a knee.
Following a row with the Mercedes superstar last year, the former F1 boss has again criticised his links to anti-racism campaigners.
Hamilton, 36, made a number of statements in support of BLM and other causes, including the Justice for Breonna Taylor campaign, en route to winning a seventh world title in 2020.
But Ecclestone, 90, hit back at suggestions of racism in the sport.
After being told by the Brit that he 'lacked understanding of the deep-rooted issues' being campaigned against, Ecclestone doubled down.
And in an interview with the Telegraph ahead of the 2021 season commencing in Bahrain on Sunday, he continued his criticism of BLM.
The Suffolk-born businessman said: "I don't think he really understood what I was saying.
"I agree we need to give more people a chance. Don’t forget I was the first person to put a black guy in a Formula One car.
I've said: 'Lewis is being used by the people who are supporting this BLM and they are taking a lot of money from it'.
"And I supported him and have supported an awful lot of black people. But Lewis is entitled to his view.
"But I’ve said to his father, 'Lewis needs to be careful. Because he’s being used by the people who are supporting this Black Lives Matter and they are taking a lot of money from it. And nobody knows where it goes'.”
Sports Personality of the Year winner Hamilton was asked last year if he was afraid how people would react to him taking a public stand.
He insisted: “There is no way that I could stay silent.
“And once I said that to myself, I didn’t hold any fear”.
Hamilton will continue to show his support for anti-racism causes in the new season although it is not known whether drivers will take a knee before races as many of them did during 2020.
And Ecclestone, a huge figure in F1 since the 1970s, says he would ban the champ's displays were he still in charge.
He added: "If I’d have still been around there wouldn’t have been anyone wearing [anti-racism] T-shirts on the podium, that’s for sure.
"One hundred per cent, there wouldn’t have been this business of kneeling before races.
"I agree the sport should do more to encourage diversity but it shouldn’t be used as a [political] tool."
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