In an extraordinary step, Formula One has effectively disowned Bernie Ecclestone, the man who built the sport into a global phenomenon, after the 89-year-old claimed that black people are "more racist" than white people, and that he had been "too busy" to deal with racism during his decades in charge.

F1, which typically responds tactfully to Ecclestone's outlandish outbursts, reacted with cold fury.

After a week in which Chase Carey donated £810,000 ($NZ1.56m) to an F1 diversity taskforce, the sport denounced its elder statesman in the starkest terms.

"At a time when unity is needed to tackle racism and inequality, we completely disagree with Mr Ecclestone's comments, which have no place in F1 or society.

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"Mr Ecclestone has played no role in F1 since he left our organisation in 2017. His title of chairman emeritus, being honorific, expired in January 2020."

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Since he took charge three years ago, Carey has tended to be diplomatic when pressed on Ecclestone's public remarks, but this time he has cut his predecessor adrift decisively.

The sport has been compelled to act in recent weeks to rectify its white-dominated image, after Lewis Hamilton shamed his fellow drivers for their silence in the wake of George Floyd's killing in Minneapolis.

Ecclestone, well-known for his intemperate comments, finally exhausted F1's patience on Friday when he argued that Hamilton's experiences of racism had not affected him – even though the six-time world champion has said that he felt the "stigma of racism" throughout his career.

Pressed on CNN whether he felt F1 had done enough to tackle racism, Ecclestone said: "I don't think anyone bothered about it before. They're too busy trying to win races or find sponsors or something, really things that are of little, if any interest."

Although he praised Hamilton for his contribution to the Black Lives Matter movement, he was far more lukewarm on the subject of the Hamilton Commission, a body established by the reigning champion to shatter the "institutional barriers" he confronted in his early years in motor racing. "I don't think it's going to do anything bad or good for F1," he said.

"It'll just make people think which is more important. I think that's the same for everybody.

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"People ought to think a little bit and say, 'Well, what the hell?'. Somebody's not the same as white people and black people should think the same thing about white people. In lots of cases, black people are more racist than white people are".

Asked whether the sport had taken Hamilton's complaints seriously while he was at the helm, Ecclestone replied: "I'm really unhappy if he took it seriously. I never thought he did. I didn't think it affected him."

Suggesting that it was not even incumbent upon F1 to stamp out racist conduct, he said: "I suppose the people who need to do that are the viewers. For those directly involved in the sport, such a small number of people can do very little."