In it for the hate

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes MP4/23 launch, 2008 | DaimlerTrack officials at the Circuit de Catalunya closed one of the spectators enclosures during today’s F1 testing at the circuit after prolonged abuse aimed at the McLaren team from a group of spectators.

Anti-Hamilton and McLaren banners have been commonplace during testing this winter, most of which is conducted at Spanish venues such as Jerez, Valencia and the Barcelona circuit that hosts the Spanish Grand Prix. I posted some video of Hamilton being jeered at Valencia earlier.

Is this an early sign that there will be problems with crowd control at some races this year?

The track organisers put today’s trouble down to “a minority of fans that were behaving unsportingly” and I’m sure they’re telling the truth, because this is the way these things always are. But it doesn’t prevent the possibility the same minority may have already bought tickets for either of this year’s F1 races in Spain.

British football has considerable experience in dealing with these problems, and the authorities take care to obtain CCTV images of offenders to ensure they are kept out of future events. I hope the Spanish authorities are doing the same.

McLaren themselves have experience of this kind of backlash. The team’s battles with Ferrari in the 1970s and 1980s meant they often got a rough reception from the Italian Tifosi which, like today’s trouble in Spain, included people throwing items at their cars – not something that can be tolerated in Formula 1.

But just because it’s happened before doesn’t make it excusable. So why is this happening again?

I expect many of the ‘fans’ would say they are angry that Alonso was unfairly treated by McLaren last year in favour of Lewis Hamilton. I think it’s an idiotic conspiracy theory but it’s obviously popular in Spain – 133,000 people, mostly Spanish, signed a petition (English version) complaining about a list of spurious ‘irregularities’.

Writing on ITV-F1 recently James Allen suggested there was “a racist element” to some of the Hamilton hate. He wasn’t speaking directly of Spanish fans, and as I haven’t seen any evidence of a racial motivation I certainly would not describe it that way.

But what I do find odd is that there are some Alonso fans who got up this morning, and decided to make a banner because they were going to an F1 test. But instead of making a banner supporting Alonso, they made one attacking Hamilton.

There are a billion reasons to like F1. I don’t like the thought that some people who buy Grand Prix tickets are in it for the hate.

The test concludes tomorrow.

More on Alonso and Hamilton

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23 comments on In it for the hate

  1. carlos said on 3rd February 2008, 17:19

    I see Autosport do have a source in Barcelona that says the people did throw things to Hamilton and to the Mclaren team, maybe I am wrong but as far as I know it have not happened. There was very offensive racists insults to Hamilton (but I do not think it is a real racist attack, if he would be white he would have been insulted too, the racism is a very different thing), there was 2 banners what were retired and 2 persons were expelled out of the circuit. It was a minority but still a minority can cause a major problem.

    In the another hand, Hamilton has an uncommon skill to say things that upset some people for a long time. He can not expect good words from that people.

    We do hope all this is an isolated fact.

  2. Number 38 said on 3rd February 2008, 17:29

    After 14 responses there’s not much left to say BUT…..Keith incorporated this line in his article:
    “fans who got up this morning, and decided to make a banner because they were going to an F1 test. But instead of making a banner supporting Alonso, they made one attacking Hamilton.”
    It seems to work both ways only last week there was a story that made the rounds on most F1 sites “Hamilton takes another swipe at Alonso”.

    And what about this ‘nationalism’ business, the article and some responses talk of talking sides based on ‘national interest’ but I reply, so do the teams, the most recent is this business of replacing Davidson with Karthikeyan just because the new owners are Indian.

    The ‘fans’ may be a bit more vulgar in their display but the negativity permeates the upper levels of F1 also. And while on the subject, what about Bernie Ecclestone, that man has pure hatred of the BRDC and little love for actual RACING, his position is pure MONEY. Most recently ….. 25 years of Australian GP are meaningless because Bernie can “make MORE” elsewhere. He hasn’t got a “HATE AUSTRALIA” banner flying anywhere but the upper level negativity is the same.

  3. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 3rd February 2008, 17:53

    Lewis Hamilton can criticise Fernando Alonso if he wants to, Fernando Alonso can criticise Lewis Hamilton if he wants to. Neither comes anywhere near justifying the kind of behaviour that went on.

    The rumoured new owners of Super Augri are not considering replacing Davidson with Karthikeyan because they prefer Indian people, it’s because it’s easier for them to sell sponsorship to companies that only do business in India if they have an Indian driver.

  4. ….and how should Sato feel? Super Aguri was funded by Honda for the sole purpose of giving Takuma Sato a seat.

    Schumi was a German driving for an Italian team;
    A Finn and Brazilian at Ferrari;
    A Brit and Finn at McLaren;
    A Brazilian and a Brit at Honda;
    A German and Italian at Toyota;
    A German and Japanese at Williams;
    A Finn (man, they seem to get around) and Brazilian at Renault;
    A German and Italian at Force India;
    A Brit and Japanese at Super Aguri;
    A Scot and Aussie at Red Bull;
    A German and Frenchman at Toro Rosso;
    And A pole and a German at BMW.

    I think I’ve got them right?

    Please show me where teams are favoring nationalism in their driver’s selections, other than Super Aguri as previously stated?
    Dr. Mallya even went so far to say that the talent and experience of the Force India drivers was more important than their nationalities, and I would have bet a bundle Karthikayan would have a seat there.

  5. Number 38 said on 4th February 2008, 1:49

    “The rumoured new owners of Super Augri are not considering replacing Davidson with Karthikeyan because they prefer Indian people, it’s because it’s easier for them to sell sponsorship to companies that only do business in India if they have an Indian driver.”

    That’s “nationalism” Keith.
    Furthermore replacing an English driver with an Indian driver tells all of us they’re more interested in advertising and selling products than they are in scoring FIA champonship points. The Indian driver is more important that developing
    a winning car. They are promoting non-F1 BUSINESS, the sport is incidental.

    And what about me……..I’m a
    citizen of the USA, whom do I cheer for?

  6. Michael K said on 4th February 2008, 11:51

    This has nothing to with “a balanced view of history of the sport” or other high-minded waffle. There has never been a time where only educated scholars of the sport were the only ones watching. At the time of Graf Berghe von Trips for example you had crowds exceeding the ones we see now, and most of them just went there for the spectacle and had next to no idea about the technology or history, let alone knowing all the drivers and teams. They went to just look at the show (preferably including some crashes) and/or support their drivers/teams. This is exactly the same now. Sometimes it gets out of hand a little bit, but we are very,very far away from hooliganism and we won’t see it rise even though there will always be incidents.

  7. Vb9pn4 comment4 ,

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