Spanish Grand Prix to host FIA anti-racism launch

Daily Star, Lewis in Nazi death threat terrorMax Mosley is sparing no-one’s blushes with his response to last week’s row over racism in Formula 1. He’s announced the FIA will launch a campaign called ‘racing against racism’ this year.

And the venue he’s picked for it? The Circuit de Catalunya, host of the Spanish Grand Prix, where the incident took place last week that sparked the controversy.

Debate has raged around the internet and on this very site about exactly what happened and whether media response to it was exaggerated. The extremes of the press reaction were illustrated on the cover of today’s Daily Star (pictured) which alleged Lewis Hamilton was the target of ‘Nazi death threats’.

The accompanying story offers no details of these supposed ‘death threats’ and they seem to think ‘racist’ and ‘Nazi’ means the same thing.

From the first-hand accounts that have been published and the small amounts of video that have come out it looks like this was down to just a few spectators hurling racist abuse. That’s bad enough – but when popular newspapers exaggerate what happened it inevitably leads to a counter-reaction – people suggesting that nothing actually happened.

There were many people in the crowd that day who saw racist abuse taking place and did not complain. This is why F1 needs an anti-racism drive, however PR-heavy and sanctimonious it may seem. Not just because of the small numbers of people involved, but because of the people who let it happen.

This is not intended to bash Spain. I don’t think there are any European or other nations that cannot claim they have had no racist incidents in the past few years. Britain certainly cannot.

In Jerez where McLaren resumed testing yesterday there was no repeat of the problems of last week – in fact it seems very few spectators bothered to attend as well. Several thousands appeared today when Fernando Alonso resumed testing for Renault, but there have been no new reports of racism. Good news.

I don’t want to see the Spanish or any other Grands Prix get cancelled – I’m an F1 fan and I think the F1 calendar is already too short. Perhaps the FIA will now say they can’t cancel the race because then they wouldn’t have anywhere to launch their anti-racism campaign…

And could they not have thought of a better name for it?

More on racism in F1

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1 comment on Spanish Grand Prix to host FIA anti-racism launch

  1. AJ14Foyt said on 13th February 2008, 21:50

    From what I can tell sitting here in California, this whole Hamilton/racist abuse issue is blown way out of proportion. Bravo Mark Webber – penalize the abusers instead of the majority of 40,000+ Spanish F1 fans who came to watch testing. But who were the abusers? A group dressed like black people (with Afro’s and painted faces)? Yelling at Hamilton from across the track while Lewis is coccooned in his garage? Is that any worse than dressing up like a banana and jeering Rubens Barichello? I don’t mind drawing a line regarding racism – but based on what has been reported, what is wrong with cheering for or against your hero or your hero’s enemy? Is F1 being reduced to the same restrictions as a child’s soccer game where only positive comments/cheering can be made? This is rediculous!

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