BERNIE ECCLESTONE has hit back at criticism from Lewis Hamilton over the race row engulfing the sport – and revealed he once saved a black man from a racist white driver in South Africa.
The former F1 supremo recalled the shocking incident in response to Hamilton labelling him “ignorant” and “uneducated” over his recent comments about racism.
Ecclestone said witnessing the shocking show of racism – as well as the murder of a black journalist – led to him pulling F1 from South Africa.
The Grand Prix in the nation had been a regular between 1934 and 1993, hosting 33 races, until Ecclestone pulled the plug.
Ecclestone said he was being driven by a white chauffeur when he assaulted a black man in the road.
He recalled: “I pulled F1 out of South Africa after a white South African killed a black journalist because of his comments.
“At a race weekend, I was given a car and a driver to use.
“I was in the car with Jochen Rindt, the F1 driver, on the way to the race track.
“A black person was walking in the road and the white driver opened the car window and, with a cane, hit the black person and made him walk on the side of the road.
“I shouted to the driver to stop the car.
“Jochen and I pulled the driver out and put the black person in the car and drove to where it was OK for our new passenger to get out safely.
“I was semi-arrested by the police.
“I explained the facts of life to them, which they didn’t want to understand. That is how it was.
“I had many other incidents like this. Life isn’t fair. We need to educate a younger generation.”
Hamilton recently called Ecclestone “ignorant and uneducated” for suggesting “black people are more racist than white people”.
The reigning world champion, 35, has been working tirelessly to lead F1’s fight against racism, targeting Ecclestone, amongst others such as Sir Jackie Stewart, for their comments.
Stewart had told Good Morning Britain: “I think Lewis has been a great example to lots of people.
“He’s quite vocal about these elements, [but]I don’t think there’s as big a problem as there might seem.”
Elsewhere, American F1 and IndyCar legend Mario Andretti, 80, said: “I have a lot of respect for Lewis, but why become a militant?
“He’s always been accepted and he’s earned everyone’s respect.
“I think the whole point of this is pretentious. I feel that way. And it’s creating a problem that doesn’t exist.”
And Ecclestone has now hit back at Hamilton’s “uneducated” jibe.
He claimed: “Lewis could start by making people aware that those who are other than white are employed by teams and are given the same opportunities.
“Lewis, you state that I am uneducated and ignorant. I have the same level of schooling as you.
“At least I had a reason – I was at school during the last war, not always under the best conditions.
“You are lucky because if I had been properly educated perhaps Formula One would not be as it was for you to benefit as you have.
“I have done well out of it, too, but I was making money before I was in Formula One.
“When you win another championship, it will be by your talent, and being in the right place at the right time.”
Ecclestone continued: “Like most successful people, you have had a little bit of luck and worked hard.
“But you are a special driver and a special person.
“Don’t think about what your skin colour is; think about what colour your mind is.
“We are all humans with the same movements. We must think in the same way.
“Don’t envy others. Just improve and catch up. We all have something different from others.
“Some of us are shorter, taller, slimmer, bigger, better looking…
“That is what we have in the end. Use it to satisfy yourself, but not to hurt others.
“We were all born the same way and this is how we should live.”