World champion Lewis Hamilton says it is “crazy” that racism is “very, very prominent” in sport and has called for stricter punishments.
Hamilton’s comments come after England footballers were racially abused in a match against Montenegro this week.
“It is really there. All around the world, racism is still a real issue, which is sad to see,” the 34-year old Mercedes driver said.
“People just need to stand up for it more. Action should be taken.”
He added: “I just remember being at school and you’d kind of get a slap on the hand for it and it’s kind of let slide and I don’t think that should happen anywhere.
“It starts from parents passing it on to kids and it continues on.”
Hamilton posted a message on Instagram after England’s 5-1 victory in a European championship qualifying match in Montenegro saying the chants were “despicable and completely unacceptable”.
Speaking before this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix, he added: “It is crazy to think that in this time in the world it is still very, very prominent.
“It doesn’t seem like it is going to be migrating much over the next years but it is great to see people standing by people in support but it doesn’t look like something is going to particularly change for a long time.”
Hamilton’s Mercedes team dominated the season-opening race in Australia two weeks ago, his team-mate Valtteri Bottas leading the Briton home to a one-two with the Ferraris nearly a minute behind.
But he believes Ferrari might come back stronger this weekend at Sakhir.
“I really hope it’s a lot closer this weekend,” he said. “I know some people think we were sandbagging or whatever it was in [pre-season] testing.
“We came into the first race thinking it was going to be a lot closer than that. We didn’t think we would be a head and from the information I had we were behind.
“We had the pleasant surprise of being fast in the last race but it could change here. maybe in the last race the tyres weren’t working for them. I’m just as excited as you are to see how that pans out.”
He also had praise for the progress made by Red Bull following their switch from Renault to Honda engines.