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

More on racism in F1

20 comments on “F1 news review: racism row”

  1. More terrible reporting from the News International stable! I wrote yesterday on my blog about The Sun‘s dire coverage — now it’s the sister paper, the equally downmarket, merely more pretentious, Times. Given that we probably wouldn’t even know about many of the incidents were it not for the Spanish press reporting them, it is ridiculous for The Times to say that the Spanish media has ignored them.

  2. I was quite surprised by it as well. I notice it’s not written by their F1 reporter Ed Gorman, though, who usually does excellent work such as yesterday’s piece on the McLaren Hungaroring row.

  3. I’ll ty to invetigate it, but i think where the 3500 data comes from. I think when circuit staff fenced the stand, they moved 3500 peole. In this group were the people who insulted Hamilton.

    How many?. 10%? that’s 350 people. 50%? 1750 people. I don’t know, and i could’t find it in any paper.

    Maybe 10 is the number of people who was expelled from the circuit that day.

    I guess is very difficult to have the exact number. How many were racist abusing? How many were booing? and how many were there, no abusing, no booing, but not feeling ashamed at all about their neighbours behaviour?. Probably we never know how many people was involved.

    Second part. I think The Times is wrong in its article. All media in Spain talk about the racist incident in Montmelo. Papers, TV, radio, and most of them didn’t do it in the sport section, and gave a priority to that info. Of course, all of them critisced the racist abuse.

    Only in “not proffesional” F1 website you can find some justification in some cases. People who comments in blog and forums is the most divided. In my opinion 50% of people thinks the racist incidence needs tolerance zero response, and public apologies (which already happened). And the other 50% thinks they have no need to feel ashamed because “there is racism everywhere” and ” i’m not racist and i don’t feel linked in any way to the people who abused”.

    I’m in the tolerance zero group (just in case someone was asking).

  4. Hello to all, I was in the circuit of montmelo on Saturday and did not see anything of what it is said in the English newspapers. certainly that great people, included me, we whistle and shout to hamilton. but nothing of racist insults.
    the reason is that we support fernando and complain about how they behaved last year lewis, ron and in general the whole team mclaren….
    I believe that you must remember everything what happened last year, as for example: ron dennis: We weren’t racing Kimi, we were basically racing Fernando
    that wasn’t a team, is this the equality of mclaren????
    I condemn any racist and xenophobic act, you can be sure, but I believe that the English newspapers have taken advantage of a punctual fact it to generalize to the rest of fans… And I believe many compatriots of lewis are not an example of polite behavior..

  5. It wasn’t just said in the British newspapers, Rip, it was in the Spanish press too: Marca. There’s a lot more discussion here.

  6. Nowadays F1 is geting more and more popular, attracting people that were not following the sport before. The media coverage has increased but unfortunatelly more of the time they are talking about “who said what” and taking sides depending of the country rather that giving objective data about the race itself. As a result it has attracted also the hooligang behaviour and fanatism of football as Steven Roy said in a previous post.

    Keith, the media in Spain has covered this story and the general feeling is shame. Is just a surprise that such a serious newspaper made such an article. Marca and The Times can not be compared, is even not the same league.

  7. I thought that, my point was I didn’t think the incident was largely ignored by the Spanish press.

  8. The old goat speaks:

    1/23 38,000 attend Valencia testing, no incidents
    1/24 “Hamilton to use Alonso behavior as a lesson”
    with obvious derogatory remarks about
    1/25 “Hamilton takes another swipe at Alonso”
    more derogatory chatter from Hammy
    1/28 “Alonso not enough to revive Renault”
    Hamilton continues pounding Alonso
    2/3 Alonso fans have had enough of Mr.
    Hamilton’s taunts !!!

    Just an observation but one might note Hammy was welcome at Valencia, this hate problem started AFTER Hamilton’s attacks on Alonso. Maybe not all the hooligans live in Spain.

  9. OK, here’s what Hamilton said:

    I think I established myself as equal last year. He was [the leader] at the beginning, wasn’t he, but it changed.

    Well, he thought he was at the beginning. But I don’t think that should be the case, we should be a team. It should be equal.

    He showed me just how not to behave as an F1 driver.

    I can’t see how anyone thinks something like this justifies racial abuse. I don’t want to get on a moral high horse here, but the two actions are incomparably different.

    No one is exempt from criticism. But everyone should expect to be able to live without racial abuse.

  10. I posted this morning in the Times’ article referred here a comment with links to articles about the issue in most important spanish newspapers. I don’t know why, my comment has been “unaproved”, “censored”, you name it.

    It’s easy to find them :
    El Pais (Poll)

    El Mundo


    Just an example, there are more. These ones don’t get into the issue, just reveal what say everyone (FIA, Hamilton, Montmelo’s principal…) . I think the sensation among the people is that these incidents are shameful, but also that english press has also overreacted.

  11. Oh Please!
    Has anyone thought that maybe Hamilton’s behavior, attitude, and ghastly treatment ot Alonso may have brought about such a reaction. However it is interesting that one never saw Schumy crying when non-fans depicted him in a Nazi uniform. Then again, Michael was a true champion; not someone who is going around crying everytime someone says something that hurts his feelings.
    Hey Hamilton, if you want to make a political statement, go to the states and follow Montoya’s lead in NASCAR racing-

  12. Samuel, they may be easy to find but they’re not so easy to read if you don’t speak Spanish. Can you perhaps give us an idea what they say? I find internet translation tools very unreliable…

    Thomas, I don’t understand your comment. Who’s crying? And why should Hamilton go to NASCAR?

  13. Just for the record, I condemn the racist insults, which I consider shameful, disgusting and unacceptable, and some kind of punishment to Montmelo staff and/or a severe warning could be appropiate (but don’t understand why it should be extended Valencia, since nothing happened there).

    I think the whole FAvsLH issue has gone out of control, and media(Spanish and British) should stop throwing gasoline to the fire. I also think that Lewis should stop referring Fernando in any way, as Fernando is doing with him. It would also help a public intervention of Fernando condemning the incidents.

  14. I think this has gone too far. Also politicians are now involved, trying to make a diplomatic issue between countries from it. It´s not amuzing?

    There is a lot of biass above this matter. The famous picture shown in the newspapers is just rubbish. It was a major day during the Barna Carnival and also those people were interviewed on TV, the were wearing a fancy dresses (quite poor have to say under my point of view) trying to be LH´s family saying we are sorry Lewis, we love you but… (on the back of the T-shirts there was a legend) FA Nº1. I particularly did not find it funny, but neither insulting in that context. What it was bad was the insults to hamilton and McLaren by other not easy to identify people in front of the box, that obliged the authorities to withdraw them from there.

    What I find hard is that the British press taking the tolerance´s flag (?) has made with the issue, putting the entire Spanish Society as racists saying like The Times, The Sun…. that Spanish people used to “enjoy” emigration to Southamerica up to 30 years ago and now find difficult to welcome latinos from Southamerica. Also fights between latin-bands against spanish-bands, not counting and isolated incident provoqued by a drunk-troublemaker in an underground wagon who had plenty of publicity on TV, and so on.

    As I said. This has gone too far, and is giving ammunition to those stupid racists for going on, they now will be on the screen all over the world and that is important for those brainless.

  15. Drivers will respond to questions they are asked. Hamilton didn’t just pick up a microphone and started talking about Alonso. And the same thing of Alonso, he gets hounded by the questioning before he blurts out something. Its really not the drivers faults, its the fault of others. And people should stop assuming that they even know what went on inside the team and use that as a bases for their actions.

  16. its time to stop this racists incident. just let,s get on with what we all love raceing f1 . This has gone on to long now this is what thay wanted and we playing wright in to there hands

  17. It´s a good time, to Alonso say something against racism.

    Here in Brasil racism is crime.

  18. “Its really not the drivers faults, its the fault of others”, oh please! So you are trying to say that they are not responsible for what they tell the media? Of course they are, and of course Lewis has knowingly taken cheap shots at Alonso, the same way Alonso has done it, even though to a much lesser extend as of late.
    I agree with Number 38 that the hostile reception for Lewis is partly due to his own actions, by not just shutting up about Alonso. It would be easy for him to just say that he won’t talk about it anymore. Of course we shouldn’t forget that he is still just a kid.
    Racist behaviour is completely unacceptable, but it comes out easier if the mob is wild already anyway…

  19. It is time everyone calmed down. So the two drivers don’t like each other big deal. They are big boys let them sort it out for themselves. The history of the sport is littered with team mates who didn’t like each other. Senna/Prost, Villeneuve/Pironi, Mansell/Piquet spring instantly to mind. Neither Lewis nor Fernando needs a mob of fans to sort the arguement. Equally no-one gains by people at a circuit abusing either of them.

    People going to a track should be encouraged to understand the sport’s technicalities and this would reduce the partisan aspect. The problem is the sport is far too complicated and there is no need for it to be.

    It is next to impossible for people to understand what a driver is doing and for people to understand the difference between drivers. I am sure most of the people who go to a track just to shout abuse could not tell you the difference in Hamilton and Alonso’s driving style and understand from that why one of them could suddenly be quicker at a particular circuit.

    Equally because of pit stops and strategy it is far too difficult for people to understand what is happening in a race. I have always believe that a grand prix should be 20odd drivers leaving a grid and racing unaided to the chequered flag. If two drivers are running together fighting for the same piece of tarmac a five year old can understand what is going on. On the other hand if one driver is on one strategy and another driver is on a different strategy no-oe knows what is going on.

    The more transparent the action on the track the less opportunity for the press to stir up baseless resentment..

  20. THANK YOU Michael K.
    This was a non-story, a couple small UN-necessary snipets by Hammy, a few idiots at the circuit, promptly handled by the cops ……. WE the F1 fans have blown it all out of proportion.
    You reap what you sow.

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