F1 must take a stand against racism

CommentPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes MP4/23, 2008 | McLaren mediaYesterday I wrote that “I haven’t seen any evidence of a racial motivation” in the attacks Lewis Hamilton has been subjected to in Spain this week.

Today damning evidence of that fact has come in from a number of sources, the worst being of four spectators at the track with blacked-up faces and gorilla masks wearing T-shirts bearing the phrase “Hamilton’s family”.

It is now indisputably clear that Hamilton’s skin colour is a point of objection for a despicable minority.

The time has come for everyone involved in Formula 1, be they fans, drivers, team personnel or the sports’ governing body, to take firm action against this group and ensure they are kept out of F1 races, tests and other events.

Other sports have spent years trying to purge the racist element from their grandstands. There has to be an immediate reaction against this alarming new development.

It goes without saying that the sports’ governing body must show it is taking this seriously. And I would suggest this a good moment for Fernando Alonso to step forward and remind some of his countrymen that professional rivalry is one thing, but racism is indefensible.

Tomorrow every British newspaper and many international ones will carry pictures of the kinds of vile behaviour that many of us thought only happened at football matches. Questions will be asked about why the Circuit de Catalunya owners did not throw these people out of the venue.

A swift denunciation and strong action from the sport must follow. Formula 1 cannot allow itself to be tinged by accusations of racism.

Update at 11:57, 4/2/08 – Britain’s biggest selling newspaper put the story on their front page today. Meanwhile the FIA has asked Spain motor racing body, the Real Federacion Espanola de Automovilismo (RFEA), to submit an explanation of how they plan to prevent a repeat.

They will have to work quickly as several teams including McLaren are testing in Jerez from Tuesday next week. The two races to be held in Spain this year in Barcelona and Valencia may be under threat.

Update at 15:12, 4/2/08 – The RFEA have condemned the spectators, saying:

The Federation wants to show its absolute repulse at these incomprehensible events, as well as showing its support to the McLaren team and especially to their driver Lewis Hamilton. Car racing is a sport where events that divert from cordiality between fans and drivers and teams will not be allowed. These kind of madmen who confuse sporting rivalry with violence must know that the Federation will have no tolerance with them.

The RFEA wants to make clear that the protagonists of this event were a very small group that doesn’t represent the thousands of people who enjoy this sport in a fun and cordial way. The RFEA also wants to highlight the speed at which the Circuit officials removed the offensive banners and the trouble markers from the stands. The governing body has asked the circuits to increase their preventive measures to avoid this kind of incidents in the future.

Additionally the Circuit de Catalunya issued this statement threatening potential legal action against the spectators:

We strongly support the FIA’s position with regards to fighting against all racial, political or religious discrimination in motor sport. The Circuit de Catalunya will not allow even the smallest incident to repeat itself within its facilities, and new measures are currently being taken into consideration in addition to those implemented during the latest sessions.

These measures have been studied with the support of the Catalan Police and the Circuit’s security services, and they will be reinforced in the upcoming tests sessions and at the Gran Premio de Espana Telefonica de Formula 1. In case of sanctions, the Circuit de Catalunya may consider the possibility of taking legal actions against those who caused the incidents, regardless of the magnitude.

The Circuit de Catalunya will officially state its position to the FIA, the Real Federacion Espanola de Automovilismo and the rest of circuits in Spain, with special interest for those who also host Formula 1 tests.

Photo copyright: McLaren media

More on racism in F1

86 comments on “F1 must take a stand against racism”

  1. Ah yes! It’s Alonso that has to lead the charge, it’s “HIS” people that are the trouble makers!

    Four idiots in monkey suits versus 70 million worldwide fans…….and WE’RE giving them the stage. This isn’t even a story. Ignor them.

  2. I find it odd that those photographed were not removed from the circuit. If a photographer can see them, then so can everyone else.

    I’m not sure Alonso needs to get involved. After all, it isn’t like he asked for these people to do this. And honestly, are these @£$%s actually going to listen to Fernando!?

    Instead, it needs the circuits that F1 visits to be warned by the FIA that behaviour like this would result in the race being taken away. This would put the onus on the circuits to deal with the idiots and may even allow Bernie to get some free space for his new events.

  3. I’m not saying Alonso’s responsible, I’m saying it would be an effective way of dealing with it.

    He is obviously the most popular F1 driver in Spain, and if him taking a stand against this persuades even one person to make these people stop then it would be entirely worthwhile.

    Besides which, if someone were racially abusing someone else and using me to legitimise it (look at the back of their shirts), I’d consider it the only decent thing to do.

  4. I agree that if one person changes then his words would be worth it. I just don’t think it would work. Some people are just idiots and the only way to effectively deal with them is to ban them from entering the events. If they get in, then security should be all over them as soon as the start doing the strange stuff that they did. They should be taken down to the police station, charged and then told to never step foot in a racing circuit again, their record going to the circuit for future policing.

    A swift denunciation and strong action from the sport must follow.

    I agree completely. I just think it should be led by the FIA rather than Fernando.

  5. A campaign to get rid of these kind of people shouldn’t be led by Alonso, but by everyone in F1. In football they have “Show Racism The Red Card” which involves the vast majority of players. All the drivers should put their weight behind a campaign to get rid of all racism in F1, in particular these idiots at Catalunya.

  6. We have seen the same thing in football for decades. Alonso has to let these people know he is disgusted by their behaviour. Whether people that stupid will listen who knows but it is something football clubs have been doing for a long time.

    In Scotland we have the religious bigotry associated with Rangers and Celtic and both clubs have gone to enormous lengths to make clear what is and is not acceptable behaviour.

    There will always be a minority who believe that their hero is only saying what is politically correct and that really he agrees with them but justcan’t say so publically. These people need to be dealt with by the circuits and if necessary the police.

    Number 38 suggests ignoring them. That is absolutely wrong. Football did that initially and the problem became a lot worse. These people and incidenst must be stamped on hard. The people involved should be given life time bans from all motor racing events as happens in football.

  7. These ‘fans’ are doing F1 no favours at all and this kind of behaviour needs to be stamped on now. There is no excuse for it.

  8. Again, I do not think this is racism, the insults over Hamilton does have a motive, true or false, that is a not good perception of the behaviour and words of Lewis, some people does think so, the 4 with gorilla masks. What that people did is tasteless, but to say F1 is having a problem of racism is too much to say in my opinion.
    The racism does not need a motive, the motive is just the colour of the skin, there is not another motive.

    You can not involve the name of another driver in this. If we have to stop the racism in F1, it would be good before to know if that is a repeated behaviour in the time or a isolated fact, and that is the job of the FIA and the police, not for the shoulders of the drivers.

    We can not to brandish the flag against the racism for 4 stupid people with gorilla masks. That is not a racist attack.
    We will see if this is repeated again, but hopefully it is just a grossness of a stupid people, I can not see an attack in this.

  9. I really don’t believe what I’m seeing just here.

    It seems the football hooligans seems to have found themselves a new home in the F1 arena using the excuse of Fernando Alonso.This has nothing to do with him , and I don’t think they’ll listen even if he speaks.From reading Ed Gorman’s F1 blog in particular I have got the impression that there was some extreme partisanship on the part of quite a few Spanish fans but even so this I didn’t think it got this deep.

    The same kind of thing has happened over here but to a lesser extent.As you pointed out in your last post F1’s really become more mainstream and unfortunately people seem not to understand that F1 isn’t like football (including ITV – judging by their Brazilian GP shambles of a programme) .There is no “England” team here and people seem to be unable to appreciate F1 for what it is.

    There are going to be two races in Spain next year for the first time since 97 and they are the only country to have this privilege. Heaven help us if they come back to ruin stuff – I really like the look of Valencia but I don’t see why there should be any F1 if hooligans think they can ruin things.I get the impression in Spain that this problem isn’t taken as seriously as it should be and perhaps people might get the message if the FIA said there was going to be no Grand Prix anymore.

  10. Carlos, given the reports of what was shouted at Hamilton and the fact that the people in the Pitpass pictures were wearing T-shirts with the slogans “Hamilton’s family”, I do not think you can deny this was a racist attack.

    Action must be taken against it right away, to leave these people in no doubt that it is not acceptable, and to prevent others from doing the same.

  11. I agree with the last paragraph,”Action must be taken against it right away, to leave these people in no doubt that it is not acceptable, and to prevent others from doing the same.”

    But we have to use the “Racism” and “attack” words very carefully. Maybe I have to know more about that incidents, and maybe you are right, if that people did throw things against the Mclaren team, then I do consider it as an attack, but I do see too much contradictory sources about that.

  12. At least the FIA have a voice today and have responded with threatened sanctions should the behaviour be repeated. Which is better than the bury head in sand approach.
    Autosport, BlogF1.

  13. Thanks for that Ollie. Here’s the statement from the FIA:

    The FIA is surprised and disappointed at the abuse directed at Lewis Hamilton.

    Abuse of this kind is a clear breach of the principles enshrined in the FIA statutes and any repetition will result in serious sanctions.

    The FIA’s intolerance of racism is enshrined in its Statutes, with Article 1 stating: “The FIA shall refrain from manifesting racial, political or religious discrimination in the course of its activities and from taking any action in this respect.”

    Here are the FIA statutes in full: PDF download. Good to see they’re not messing about with this.

  14. I would like to add that any form of bigotry – racial or religous is unacceptable not only in sport but in life as said earlier it should be stamped down – and action not words are what is req they should have been thrown out – why not?? – and what action against future idiots is going to happen?

  15. Oh, there’s always idiots. And when you get a really successful sports star, they come out of the woodwork. We had it with the clowns in their Mansell T-shirts who used to come to the British GP in the early 90s with their “F*** Senna” banners.

    And I remember being ashamed of my old home town after hearing that a group of German tourists were assaulted the night after Germany knocked England out of Euro ’96…

    Then there were the idiots from Schumi’s army who made issued death threats to Damon Hill….

    Best to do what we can to keep these people away from F1.

  16. Disgraceful. They should have been removed from the circuit and banned from any future races or meetings at any FIA organised event.

  17. This is a problem for all sports (we have had two recent disgraceful events here in Oz at the Tennis & Cricket)and is only going to get worse before it gets better.

    Racism is not to be tolerated in any form, and those responsible for this should have been ejected from the grounds and not allowed to return.

    If you want to be nationalistic about motor racing, go watch the A1.

  18. Nikos Darzentas
    3rd February 2008, 23:44

    it’s a disgrace, it’s shameful, and I could use a thesaurus to add more to this… we should not let this go on, at any stage of life, and in particular in F1

    well done to Keith for insisting on this, it’s very important

  19. I agree with you, Keith; I do believe that Alonso should step up to the plate and offer a statement to his fans — not because I think the truly racist minority (there’s a weird misnomer for you, grin) will listen, but because, for at least one other reason, many will lose respect for him if he doesn’t. I know that I will, and I’ve been surprised that I haven’t seen a statement from his camp on this subject already, to be frank.

    However, I do agree with some other posters here, as well — to dignify it too much is to legitimize it at all.

    I made the mistake of commenting on the fray in Barcelona several hours too soon — my disgust was with the trash-throwing, as I would assume there are always racists in every sport and country and otherwise human environment on the planet, however reprehensible — it’s not exactly news. But I honestly didn’t believe this would turn into a “racial issue”.

    An F1 fan commented on my post last night, telling me to be careful with my disdain for McLaren (Dennis & Hamilton) if I didn’t want to be labeled a racist. In classic style, I scoffed it off with a sarcastic line … and then read “further details” about the McLaren attack (and I do consider it one) this morning.

    I am appalled. For a number of reasons.

    I am also appalled that I cannot express my ‘disdain’ for Hamilton/Dennis, without the race card being pulled. I’ve posted again on the subject today, granted, but not to retract what I initially wrote; instead, certainly to express how I feel about the entire subject.

    But, here’s the deal: I resent needing to “dance” that way. I resent anyone who still uses “race” as a divider, when we all need to pull together as ONE race and “carry each other”.

    Sorry, grin … I’m still pretty fired up about all of this, and hope that it will go the way of the dinosaurs, and just like F1 — fast.
    Be well.

  20. first of all, i’m not trying to defend anyone who did something racist, but thre is an explanation for the outfits.

    this weekend is the carnival party in Spain, and it’s a tradition to wear costumes. usually this costumes are funny or even irreverent. So i’m pretty sure that people wearing that costumes, weren’t trying to offend anyone.

    The racist insult and banner existed, and it’s regrettable, but don’t try to find more than what really happened.

  21. Thanks for the context, Frecon. Can you give us any more details?

    I read elsewhere that it was similar to taunts that some black footballers have received in Spain, including one called Samuel Etoo. I’m no expert on this, I was wondering if anyone else had heard anything similar? As Frecon says this is not to mitigate or trivialise what happened, just to understand it.

    This article in Marca (in Spanish) also seems to have some new information about what went on. A crude translation using Google suggests they’re putting the number of people involved at 3,500, which would be alarming if true:

    “It was not an isolated event, but the general conduct of some 3,500 fans who gathered in the gallery’s main circuit yesterday morning.”

    Perhaps some of the Spanish speakers here could provide a more reliable interpretation?

  22. Samuel Eto’o is a Barcelona player who received a lot of racist abuse. I am not sure why he was singled out but there were examples of teams with other black players whose fans subject Eto’o to racist abuse.

  23. Why are we spending so much time picking on a few hooligans in the grandstands. Oh, sure, we’re going to ban them from races.
    What about the Muslim hooligans that burn 4000 cars in Paris, how you going to ban them?
    Instead of expecting Alonso to quell the crowd why not ask Bernie to move the race.

  24. Hi, 38 — can you name a country where racism doesn’t exist? To where Bernie should relocate Spain from the circuit?

    Just curious, because I’m a very uninformed American, and I’m only trying to learn here.

  25. Alonso HAS to get involved, absolutely! I’m surprised that with all the reporters and journalists around he hasn’t condemn these acts yet in Barcelona.

    Not because it’s his responsibilty how his fans behave, but because he has to distance himself and make it clear to his fans that it’s not the support he wants. I do beleive if he harshly condemned this it would stop most of these lunatics acting this way. And even if it wouldn’t (which I don’t beleive) it would be an important gesture.

    Schumacher also distanced himself and condemn it when his fans threatened Damon Hill in 1994. That’s what I expect from Alonso too!

  26. Frecon!

    I don’t think chanting “f****** black” and so on has anything to do with some Spanish carnival, sorry.

  27. Kostyasch, I said yesterday, and i repeat now. Racist insults existed and it’s regettable, and it’s not related with carnivals. I only gave an explanations for costumes. Irreverents costumes are a tradition. About politicians, about religion, about celebrities and of course about sport. I don’t know that people but i think they were trying to make fun of Anthony Hamilton going with Lewis at every GP. I think so, but maybe i’m wrong.

    I was yesterday reading a lot of newspaper and i think the translation of Marca is pretty close to reality. Apparently it wasn’t an isolated group of people, and most of the people placed in front of the Mclaren box was booing and insulting Hamilton. Circuit staff decided to fence that part of the stands after a Mclaren responsible made an unofficial complaining. Also staff decided tor retire all posters. i think in a normal situation most of the posters wasn’t offensive, but with all the racist abuse issue, it was a good idea remove it. Also a little group of people was expelled from circuit. Maybe this decissions could in the future save Montmelo to be punish.

    I’d like to belive that the racist abuse was started by a minority, and the crowd start to adding without realising what they were really doing. I’d would like to belive that the racist abuse it wasn’t racism and some people chose the most evident of Lewis characteristics to build insults, and they also could insult the beard of Heidfild, or the bald of Dennis.

    But the fact is, more than 3000 people was shouting, booing, and a lot insulting Lewis and that’s completely regrettable.

  28. Alonso SHOULD step up to the plate and denounce these ‘fans’, for sure.

  29. I have a clear opinion on this which is that the root of this racism is Spain itself. If you look at racism in football and how Spanish people in this thread try to explain that it’s partly just a bit of fun just proves my opinion that Spain is at least more racist than any other big European country I know. I don’t think Alonso will speak up as this will probably alienate him from those kind of fans, which I think are quite large in numbers in Spain. Just look at football, Eto’o is just one example, it happens all the time and the Spanish federation does nothing about it. Or the quotes of Aragones, in every other major football nation the manager would’ve been fired, no questions asked. I know that the Spanish people will now say that it’s all not meant that way, but how would you feel if English fans would start treating Alonso the same way? Spain is sadly a little far behind in the fight against racism and shows no signs of tackling it properly.

  30. Alonso should definitely step in and publicly criticise the so-called ‘fans’ who have taken part in this dispicable act. It’s clear they hate Hamilton as a lot of fair weather english fans will hate Alonso , but bringing race into it is too easy, backward and bigoted. Spanish football suffers a similar indignity unfortunately as do a lot of Eastern European countries which subject black footballers to horrific chants when national teams play matches. People criticise England football fans, but it’s not like it was in the 80’s – and that’s through schemes like kicking racism out of football. Other sports and nations should look at what the FA has done with english football and take action against those who bring sport into disrepute with racist abuse.

  31. http://www.adrivo.com/nachrichten/formel1/55750/2008/02/04/kein_platz_fuer_unsportliches_verhalten___fia_macht_ernst.html

    This German article claims Alonso commented it saying: “Some of those spectators are like animals.”

    IMO he could have said more but at least he commented it and condemned it at last!

  32. Thanks Kostyasch.

  33. Michael K. I’m not trying to justify or trivialise anything. I’m just trying to put a context in a single fact, and it was the issue about the customes. I’ve try to explain the tradition of the costumes, and my point it’s people here probably don’t think is more than a joke. Anyway I understand for other people out of Spain, with an explanation could be offensive, and also i understand for other people even with the explanation is still offensive.

    I’ ve said in all my post, but i insist, I DO NOT defend any racist abuse, I DO NOT say that racial abuse didn’t exist, I DO NOT justify that behavior.

    Sadly racism in Spain exists as in most of the other europeans countries. Racist behavior exists in spanish sport fields, as exists in most of the other european countries. Sadly Spain have been the first country showing racist abuse in F1.

    I don’t think Alonso is responsible of any of this. Last season basically he complained about Mclaren, and since he left the team, he has refused to answer any question related with Hamilton. I think the ones who must calm down that people are the 2 or 3 journalist who light up the hatred to Hamilton. An Alonso criticism could help, but i think then he will assuiming responsability in something which is completly unconected with him.

    Etoo. It was racial abuse in some fields of Spanish League, and is still happening this year. In some fields the majority of the crowd protests and achieve to silence the racial insults, but unfortunately it’s very unsual. Oddly Aragones was one of the first Etoo’s coach, and Etoo always talk about him as an excellent person who teached a lot about football.

  34. I forgot… talking about hatred and fair play

    1994 WRC championship. British Rally. On the second day Carlos Sainz was in the first position, and McRae was Second. Next day Sainz was the first in run each sector. Oddly when he ran the sectors it was trunks in the middle of the roads, which misteriously had dissapeared when McRae drove in the same parts.

  35. I think there are two distinct issues here and one of them is being lost.

    Racism is indefensible and rightly is being condemned.

    But people seem for some reason to want to spend time, effort and money to go to a track to shout abuse and throw things at a team/driver. While it is important that the racism is dealt with it is also important that someone deals with the morons who hurl abuse of other kinds. Motor racing does not need that. By all means if you can’t find anything better to do with your life make up posters etc but at least try and understand the context.

    Throwing anything at a car,driver or team should result in a life time ban. Motor racing is dangerous but morons who throw things make it infinitely more dangerous than is necessary.

    The racism has to be dealt with but so does the underlying behaviour. This is motor racing not war.

  36. Sad and shameful! Those guys are ********, and unfortunately a bunch of stupid guys in gorilla masks sells more papers than millions of fans who respect others opinions and can understand sport has nothing to do with politics or races.

  37. Frecon, I understand your point and also what you wrote before. I agree, racism exists anywhere in the world, Eastern Europe was also rightly mentioned in this context. Britain, France, Germany, etc. were all at the same stage that Spain is at now, the difference for me looking at it from the outside is that it is generally more accepted and almost nothing is being done against it. The Aragones case clearly stands out here as does the racist abuse of visiting European teams as examples that got widespread international coverage but from the Spanish side not much was done.
    It is good that Alonso made remarks against this sort of behaviour and my view of him would definitely change for the better if he openly attacked those animals as he called them.

  38. I agree. I think spanish people don’t realise about the size of racism problem, and think is a minority who are racist. But doing nothing about racim you’re supporting it. Solutions must be took inmediatly.

    Although i think the Aragones affair was a missundertanding, and he’s not racist. But i think it’s not only what you think is also what you say, and after that quotes Aragones should been inmediatly fired.

  39. Keith,

    There is something wrong here, I thinked the people in the photo of pitpass are wearing gorilla masks, meaning they are insulting Lewis with a racist topic, I can not see these masks, just I see people with black makeup pretending to be a lot of Hamiltons saying Alonso is the number 1, exactly where is the racist thing in this? It would be the gorilla masks what would be a racist insult, but these masks do not exist.

    About the banners I have seen one referring the crane in germany, and other one saying “Hamilton, you talk too much ****”, again, what is the racism here?

    There was a great part of the crowd insulting Hamilton, and somebody did listen racists insults from somebody in the crowd, but it is very different to say that all the crowd was doing racists insults. And this is the only racist thing that I can find in this story.

    About the things that the people did throw over Lewis, I was trying find something, but nothing of that seem have happened.(Pitpass says yes, but the rest of media do not say the same thing). Maybe I am not right, but I can not find that.

    Still, there was racist insults and one is enough, all that people should be identified and admonished, and maybe something more than that, but if we are talking about racism, we have to say what exactly happened and how exactly that racism was, and to verify the facts, then we can talk about racism.

  40. “just I see people with black makeup pretending to be a lot of Hamiltons” “exactly where is the racist thing in this?”

    Are you joking?

  41. Carlos,

    Do you not think black make up suggests racism? It does in the rest of the world. It will to Max and the FIA. This kind of lunacy could result in Spain losing its F1 races.

    No-one is saying the whole crowd is racist.

  42. 39 postings of rubbish, here is the Catalunya story we should be chatting up:

  43. Does the black make-up indicate racism?

    The gorilla masks do it, because it does mean a black person is being compared to an animal in a derogatory way, but I do not see the racist insult in the black make-up.
    I do find the story with the gorilla masks is very different that the story without the gorilla masks.

  44. Historically, I think sensitivity to white people putting on black make-up and pretending to be black is to do with derogatory representations of black people in forms of entertainment such as minstrel shows (see Wikipedia) but I’m sure other people can give you more detailed explanations than I can.

  45. Keith,

    In Spain we do have traditions as the 3 magi kings, one of the kings is black, and usually a white man uses black makeup with that purpose, that is not derogatory, in fact that black king is traditionally the dearest king for a spanish child. That black makeup in minstrel shows did can be derogatory in the XIX century in a part of the world, but we have not that view in Spain.

  46. No offence Carlos but I don’t think the Spanish consider Lewis Hamilton the dearest king. Also regarding the gorilla masks not being racist – a few years ago when England played Spain at football in Spain Shaun Wright-Phillips and Ashley Cole endured racist chants coupled with monkey noises, so I think there is definitely a racist element in these masks.

  47. Vertigo, you stole my thunder there. I agree, there seems to be an total intolerance to English blacks in Spain…. In the football situation, FIFA only gave a poultry fine. Let’s hope the FIA has a more solid spine & wipes Spain off the F1 calendar if this happens agian. ZERO TOLERENCE is the only way.. FFS, its the 21st century, not the 18th!

  48. Vertigo,

    There is no offence, welcome.
    Not, Lewis is not too much loved here, but it is not for the colour of his skin.

    Really, I do not know too much about football, the names and that match are unknown for me, I suppose they are black people too, really I do not know about that, sorry.

  49. .oO(A poultry fine? What, he had to hand his chickens over? Ohhhh, wait a minute, I think he means “paltry” :D)

    Sorry, couldn’t resist. I’ve seen no photos of gorilla masks, apart from those worn by Kimi a while back. They were merely faces painted black and so indicated the extent of their owners’ ignorance as well as their racism; Hamilton’s mother is white.

    Number 38, I hate to say it, but the PitPass article referred to by your good self almost certainly made the news only because of the racist furore over the weekend. Had there been no scandal, we would probably never have learned of Claudia’s support for McLaren – PitPass are doing a noble thing in trying to show the other side of the story.

    It’s the old, old story: bad news makes the headlines, good news is consigned to a short paragraph on page 34.

  50. Further useful context on Autosport that covers a lot of the things we’ve been discussing.

  51. Clive, I know what i meant!!! the Spainish FA had to send 55 Chickens to FIFA as compensation…. ;)

  52. Keith,

    I guess if I look for “racism” and “uk” in google, I am going to find many things too.

    I do not think there is racism towards Hamilton, there is some people that used the characteristics of his colour (half black/white) as an insult, if he would have been white with squint eyed, they would have used that difference against him, they are stupid people that resorts to insults to show their hostility.
    The motivation was not racial, the insults were racial. To consider this as a racial attack, I think it is a wrong view, it is just my opinion.

  53. I am not going to get in to the fine detail of the type of abuse leveled towards Lewis, the headline of this article is relating to what actions (if any) F1 should take. I think it is simple, fanatical hatred whether it crosses the blurry lines of Racism or not should be condemned by the whole F1 community. Punish the circuit and punish the Spanish motor sport authority and if it happens again, ban Spanish fans from the circuit and hold the race without any fans. but Punishing authorities is not the long term answer, the FIA must incorporate a similar program as the English Football Association of “Kick Racism Out” On going education of the correct social respect needs to involve the drivers and teams alike. We were always going to have to address this issue one day, the quicker we address it the sooner these headlines will disappear and we can talk about on track headlines.

  54. In that case, AndyWolf, I can only express my wholehearted support for poultry fines. Let us have more of them!

    Mind you, I don’t know where McLaren would have managed to find 50 million chickens… ;)

  55. I think my point of view is clear enough.

    But i want two add two quick ideas:

    1) some parts of the info published is exagereted.

    2) you are enjoying as hell talking about racism in spain, racists spaniards, and spanish bad behaviour, and in some way that’s xenophobia.

    Measure your comments. You are not better for using a 1000 words explaining why british are better than spanish, instead of say “f****** spanish”

  56. I am glad to see the Spanish ASN speak out. They helped stir up the feeling that Alonso had been disadvantaged by asking for an equality steward to be appointed in Brazil. At least now they are trying to calm the situation down.

  57. By the way, Circuit of Catalunya and sapanish Federation have said that they are not going to allow more racist abuse, and they are studying actions which includes police surviliance and intervention. It lasts just two days to take this deccision, and it lasts just a coiple of hours remove banners and expell the people whos was shouting.

    Now you can continue your xenophobic speech Spain=S***

  58. Frecon I appreciate the fact that you are angry because you believe we are enjoying attacking Spain and therefore you, but I don’t take any pleasure out of discussing racism, and frankly I’d rather this hadn’t happened and that we didn’t HAVE to talk about it. Racism is a problem that needs weeding out wherever it is found, not just in Spain, and I get no pleasure from discussing it.

  59. Carlos,

    I won’t deny that Britain has its more than fair share of racism, I grew up amongst some of the worst of it, and I’m not going to deny it doesn’t happen across the world – but that’s no excuse for it to be there. Those that choose to express this opinion on such an International platform and scene should be ashamed….I would even say they shouldn’t be allowed to breed.

    I’d admit openly that I dislike Hamilton enough to even forward videos which I thought were interpreted as “Hamilton, you lead like a moron” – but as soon as I learnt of the racism, I immediately apologised and retracted as to be honest I had no clue what they said, they couldve have had racial incitement for all I knew, but I thought the sport hadn’t come to that yet – Bernie was right in his saying he wishes people wouldn’t make him out to be the “first black F1 driver because it’s not about that”. One of the reasons I liked about F1 is that there’s not much chaos towards the participants in relation to the likes of football.

    To say that wearing black makeup, with Hamiltons Family written on their tops, and prancing around isn’t racial incitement would be a bit naive…taking the piss, derogatory especially, is half the time imitating someone – if I were an F1 driver and the crowd pulled the skin around their eyes back I’d know fine well what they mean. If you’re going to attack someone, and you choose to do it by how they look, how they born, or anything similar, that’s stooping a bit low. It basically means they find no rational ground for disliking a person so they choose the lowest denominator.

    From my experiences of Spain, and I think Barcelona’s one of the most amazing cities in the world even if some don’t consider it Spanish, they’re very big on families. How would you feel if people we’re taking it out on not only yourself, but your families as well. I wouldn’t have a problem with people racially attacking me, I can deal with ignorance, but beyond that it goes a bit far – as I’m sure a lot would agree.

    Like some others, I’m not going to go into the hate for Lewis Hamilton – I certainly dislike him very much, but I’ve been into F1 longer than anything else in my life and I don’t care where he comes from (just like any other driver) – but he doesn’t deserve the recent treatment that’s been reported.

    I have never been a nationalistic or patriotic person, not to say I don’t have pride where I came from, but I would hate to see Lewis Hamilton leave or disappear from F1 on such primary school playground affairs.

    The point of this blog post is that F1 must take a stand against racism, not whether or not you like Lewis Hamilton, and I fully support it – not just in F1, but on an International scale. The threat and bullying of someone based on where they come from, how they were born, or any related topic, is just low – plain and simple. It’s not excusable.

  60. The Circuit de Catalunya wishes to explain its position regarding the actions of a minority of spectators on Friday, February 1st during the test session of Formula One teams:

    1. The total number of spectators during the three days of the event was 55,000 fans with a general attitude of respectful and excellent behaviour during the whole session. The Circuit de Catalunya particularly wants to thank the majority of fans for their attitude, and kindly seeks public recognition of this.

    2. We strongly support the FIA’s position with regards to fighting against all racial, political or religious discrimination in motor sport.

    3. The Circuit de Catalunya will not allow even the smallest incident to repeat itself within its facilities, and new measures are currently being taken into consideration in addition to those implemented during the latest sessions. These measures have been studied with the support of the Catalan Police and the Circuit’s security services, and they will be reinforced in the upcoming tests sessions and at the Gran Premio de España Telefónica de Formula One.

    4. That the Gran Premio de España Telefónica de Formula One represents the image of a country in the world and the Circuit de Catalunya will not accept any abuse of this image through racist attitudes or attacks on sporting competitions. The Circuit requests the Grand Prix to be the genuine meeting point for all the different supporters of drivers and teams in our sport. Especially to represent the welcome and sporting values of our country and our national sponsor.

    5. In case of sanctions, the Circuit de Catalunya may consider the possibility of taking legal actions against those who caused the incidents, regardless of the magnitude.

    6. The Circuit de Catalunya will officially state its position to the FIA, the Real Federación Española de Automovilismo (Spanish Motorsports Federation) and the rest of circuits in Spain, with special interest for those who also host Formula One tests.

    Circuit de Catalunya
    February 4th, 2008

  61. Frecon, this would have been treated exactly the same by this website if it happened in any other country. I did add an update about the facts you’ve raised in comments 57 and 61 several hours ago.

    I realise there’s a danger of sensationalising things like this but I’ve been cautious to point out that some sources are in other languages and interpretations may vary. It would be useful to get some thought from a Spanish speaker on the article referred to in comment 21.

    But it’s not as if I’ve put up a big banner with the words ‘bigots in Spain‘ on it, have I?

  62. Sorry Keith. I was not talking about your blog article, it was about some comments posted later. I don’t think you are being sensationalist.

    About the update: When i clicked the link in the main site, i did in the comments link, and i didn’t realise there was a new update.

  63. Ah no problem – it’s one of the tricky things about running a blog: when do you update an existing article, and when do you create a new one? If I kept creating new articles today, suddenly all I’ve got on the homepage is stuff about racism. I’ll try to find a way of making it clearer in future.

  64. You’re right Keith, in this world we can get stupid about stuff we don’t understand and limited by language barriers. Also about that link you posted from the Sun, a British newspaper – surely that’s inciting racial or xenophobic hatred by making British people hate Spanish people. I think we all need to see these things in context and learn from this stupid story started by a few idiots among thousands of true F1 fans.

  65. Also regarding the Sun’s article “Bigots in Spain”, it’s quite stupid to see the Sun taking the moral high ground when “Bigots in Spain” was the 5th most read story on their page, behind “Busty Air Girl’s Second Strip Tease”, “Cheeky Celebs Love To Flash”, “Pilot Enjoy’s Hostie’s Air Strip” and “Brazilian Carnival Sizzles”. If that’s not sensationalism I don’t know what is!

  66. whoa! 63 posts!

    I hate to see this in F1.I live in the south in the USA so,I have seen plenty of racism,especially when I was a child.I would even get picked on for not joining in with the idiots that thought it was fun to make fun of others because of their skin color.

    Maybe Alonso should speak up.(couldn’t hurt)

    He could say something like:

    “I don’t dislike Hamilton because of the color of his skin–I dislike him because he kicked my ass on the track last season and made me look bad,now I have to take my game up a notch.”

  67. grin … I agree, Wesley! (There are many other reasons to dislike Hamilton, but your point is excellent!)

  68. PS. These are Hamilton’s statements, reported by monstersandcritics:

    ‘The truth is I feel somewhat sad. I love this country, especially the city of Barcelona. The people in Spain have always been very warm,’ said Hamilton.

    ‘The only thing that I have done is to try to give the best of myself and try to win the championship. At no point have I tried to deliberately prejudice Fernando but the fight has been very tough and my image in Spain has been severely damaged.’

    I’m not sure about the “deliberately prejudicing Fernando” comment, especially considering the shots he took at him with the “I know now how not to behave as a champion” or whatever it was …

    (I don’t like Hamilton any more now than I ever did, by the way.)

  69. In the article you comment on 21 they say that there was over 3500 people who insulted LH. But, I have to add something: Marca really exaggerates everything, so in this kind of things they aren’t too much reliable.

    And, if you don’t know, yes, there’s racism in Spain, like everywhere else.

    The ‘famous’ denounce of irregularities has a lot of things a bit silly and childish. But, there’s some others that are completely true. Hamilton is hated, more than anything, because of Hungary problem. Surely it’s media’s fault, because they told very different things in England and in Spain.

    By the other hand, it’s carnival in Spain. These are days of laughing about everything, and I mean everything. Believe me, these guys weren’t the only ones wearing a costume. There was people whit McLaren costumes saying they were Alonso, and others were wearing disguises of clowns, dinosaurs,… In the circuit!

    Those ones whit the black make-up were just trying to make a joke. A Spanish journalist asked them and the answer was aproximately: ‘We are Hamilton grandparents and we are here to support Alonso. LH will see that even his grandparents support FA’. It wasn’t said in a rude way. Maybe it wasn’t too appropriate, but we can’t crucify them because they don’t know how a joke must be to be funny and not to be offensive.

    Moreover, people shouted ‘f****** black’ the same way they shouted ‘s** of b****’ (Marca says this too), and this last insult isn’t racist. So they just wanted to express his hate to a disappointing partner for Alonso, not his hate to a black guy.

    In my opinion, the discussion here shouldn’t be if racism must be tolerated in a sport (obviously not). The discussion should be if you must support a sportman or if you must hate ‘his enemy’.

    Just one last thing: Sorry for my English.

  70. “Britain’s biggest selling newspaper”

    which we all know is full of bunkum.

  71. Powerline 2008
    5th February 2008, 1:53

    It’s sad to see another sport victimized by bigots. Even sadder to read some here on this board supporting these bigots & living in denial.

  72. Hello Keith,
    Have you ever had 71 reader responses on a MOTOR RACING issue?

  73. I for one am pleased to read all of the above articulated responses to an ugly situation.

    My meager observation is that Alonso needs to state a response that condemns the track side actions of the bigots and zealots. Otherwise his silence will be assumed as support by the lunatic fringe that behaves this way. And it needs to be stronger than “Some of those spectators are like animals.”

  74. frecon!

    Nobody says Alonso is responsible (IMO he is partly responsible for what happened at McLaren while the Spanish media is trying to portray him very much one-sidedly as “THE victim” but that’s another issue. That his heated fans respond to this conflict with such behaviour is not his fault, of course.) However he should react! At least he already did with a very short comment if what Adrivo.com wrote is true (I didn’t read that quote anywhere else), better than nothing, but to be honest I expected a more clear message from him – an official statement or an interview or something. Not because it’s his responsibility what was going on there but because these are his fans and he has to make it clear he doesn’t want support like that and he condemns such behaviour! I will be very disappoined in him if he doesn’t stand up against it more clearly!

    Also, nobody says it’s only Spain where there is racism. In my country, an Eastern European country, there is racism, antisemitsm too and it saddens me just as much. And you know what? I won’t try to defend my country over this. I won’t try to play it down. Trying to make it look like nothing bad or “exaggerated” is not the way to fight against it and make your country a better country!

  75. And to be honest the reactions are very typical. Usually it goes like this:

    1) There is a racist attack.

    2) First reactions are shock and outrage.

    3) In the second wave of reactions opinions appear which try to play it down: oh, it wasn’t that bad after all, just a joke, nothing serious. The harsh condemnation of it in the media is exaggerated. Only the evil media made an issue of nothing. Etc.
    We are here now.

    4) Next step will be: actually there wasn’t anything bad happening, it’s only that guy of color who is trying to make an issue of it with the help of the evil media and by that he is trying to make us look bad and capitalize on that.

    5) And then instead of remorse the hate on the guy will even go bigger, because now all of a sudden he is the bad guy in the story in many people’s eyes.

    Sorry to sound a bit cynical but you know, there is nothing new under the Sun…

  76. It has nothing to do with Alonso, they maynot be his ppl, LH has alot of ppl who dont like him, and not all of them are Alonso fans.

    He doesnt do anything to make it better himself, if ppl know he is annoyed by it then those who want to annoy him simply will!

    This is the world we live in, you cant control every single persons actions!

  77. Hamilton is the public enemy of F1 spanish supporters.

    If he continues to tell bad words about Alonso he’ll be insulted and more…
    The Hamilton’s image is very poor in Spain, he is not welcome in Spain.

    No racism, only hate.

    And you, britains, shut up! your hooligans are the worst of the sport. You are not an example!

    It’s just an opinion.

  78. Kun,

    Are you seriously saying one driver cannot criticise another’s behaviour or if he does he can expect to be treated like this.

    The idea that it is OK just to hate someone based on the media’s representation of their views is pathetic and infantile. I really don’t understand how people can watch motor racing like it was football and only be interested in one driver. I cannot understand what motivates people to spend a day at a track hurling abuse at a driver for whatever motivation.

    The people doing that are missing the whole point of going to a circuit. Spain gets more access to F1 than any other country and instead of race fans enjoying it there are morons who do nothing but abuse someone and espouse hate. You really need to think about what you are saying.

    Make no mistake Bernie won’t hesitate to take the race somewhere else. Barcelona, Valencia and Jerez may be the most popular testing circuits now but that can change. Bernie happens to own a circuit in the south of France which is set up to re-create any kind of track layout. He would love to switch all testing there.

    The sensible Spanish fans need to decide whether or not they are going to let these morons take away all the testing and both races or whether they are going to stand up and tell these people to shut up and get out.

    People must have something better to do with their lives than hate racing drivers.

  79. Steven, Bernie is all about money and at the mo, Spain is where the money is to be made, LH has done nothing to endear himself to fans of Alonso(and I am not one), he constantly states(or the press states) this fact.

    The few racists who were in Spain should be ashamed, but in general Hamilton has to expect the Alonso Spanish fans to wind him up! Its called rivalry.

    You cant tar everyone with the same brush!

  80. Kun:

    Wow. I can see that you like the use of the word “hate”, though in your case, it might not be racist in the sense that you despise Hamilton’s “mixed race”, or even that you despise him as a man … you seem to despise the Brits equally as much, and I’m quite certain that their population is as mixed as any other on the planet these days.

    My suggestion would be to clarify your thoughts, rather than to make blanket statements about a country’s — or a RACE’s — behavior modules.

    Surely, you would not like your countrymen and/or -women to be judged in this way for your own statements, above.

    Just a thought.

  81. oh, well, I see you didn’t like my comments about All britains are racists too. It’s the same with me when british media say all spanish people are racists.

    And to talk about behavior before look at into your country and tell me if your hooligans have an ideal behavior.

    Hamilton is a driver extremally un-fair, he is no a victim, he is an agitator, this is my true, he always telling bad things about the others… then these are the consequences.He is the only driver not estimated for his companions. Why?

  82. Well, the main difference between Spain and other civilised countries (not only Britain) is that in other larger countries something is done against racism when it happens and this never used to happen in Spain. Now it looks like in this case there is some effort from the Spanish side, which is good to see.

  83. The “hooligans” in my country, the USA, are just as much hooligans as they are in any other country, Kun.

    The point is not that there ARE these people … the point is that none of us should allow them in our midst.

    That’s not a “country’s” job. There’s no “police state” on the planet which can stop a damned thing.


    At some point, it’s time to stop standing “by” … it’s time to stand UP. Together.

  84. I’ve had to remove some comments from here and other articles today. Can I remind everyone that personal attacks, swearing and racist remarks will be deleted or censored. See here for more information:


  85. Thank you, Keith.

    Part of why I love this site so much is that you allow honest discussion, informed discussion, and also – passionate discussion. But, in the end … it’s not about censorship as much as it is about having the ability/morality to choose what you will and will not allow in your midst.

    “Racism”, in its way, is something we all have equal responsibility to either allow or not allow in OUR midsts.

    “I’m just sayin'”, grin …

  86. I hope not to offend anyone by my opinion but racism has always been an issue in racing because racing in it’s essence imatates life. Please understand economic hardship prevents many minorities from competing in motorsports due to the sport being the most expensive form of competition on earth. Motorsports has mostly been a sport reserved for the financially priveleged.
    I hope those reading this can understand racism isn’t just about hatred or black face, It’s about competition for survival. It was through conquest that developed a system of supremacy and thereby allowing priveledge. When faced with change people feel threatened. Lewis Hamilton represents change. If F1 wants to counter racisim they should develop a program that creates diversity in their sport. Ron Dennis was F1’s diversity program even though he didn’t know it. After Lewis is gone who will be next? Nobody whants to admit it but there is a need for a diversity program in F1 due to the economical hardship minority drivers are faced with! I speak firsthand because my son just as Lewis has a tremendous talent but without financial support he will never get the chance to show it.

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