F1 news review: racism row

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Lewis Hamilton, Goodwood Festival of Speed, 2007 | MercedesThe British papers today have some conflicting reports on the reaction in Spain:

“Spanish media chose to overlook latest incident” (The Times)
“Spanish view: ‘Hooligans’ abuse Hamilton” (Daily Telegraph)

I’m not sure I agree with The Times’s opinion piece. Some F1 sites have reported about coverage of the incident in Spain, although it is unclear exactly how many spectators were involved.

One Spanish publication (Marca) reported that 3,500 spectators were giving Hamilton racist abuse. Some commenters on this blog have suggested that was an exaggeration. A story on Autosport quotes the Circuit de Catalunya boss Ramon Padreras saying only ten were abusing Hamilton.

In The Sun, who put the story on the front page yesterday, Damon Hill urges the FIA to kick out racist venues. In The Independent the British government gives its reaction:

“‘Sickening’ racist abuse of Hamilton turns into a diplomatic incident.”

You can always tell when F1 has crossed the dividing line between the sports pages and the news pages, because journalists who don’t usually write about the sport make typing errors like ‘McClaren’…

It’s rare to see F1 get this kind of international attention and in some ways it reminds me of the reaction to the death of Ayrton Senna in 1994. Columnists are already queuing up to say the FIA will ignore the incident, ‘because they make money’.

In the specialist F1 press, Pitpass are making sure no-one forgets they ran the pictures first. GrandPrix.com either haven’t noticed or are pretending it hasn’t happened, but if their editors took a decision to keep reportage of the incident off their front page, then a glance at their Google ads banner may dismay them.

Please post any links to interesting articles you’ve found below – it would be especially interesting to hear more about what’s being said in Spain.

Photo copyright: Mercedes

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