The FIA is to launch an anti-racism scheme after Spanish fans taunted Lewis Hamilton in testing at Barcelona. In the wake of the anti-McLaren feeling stirred up by the country’s media, some fans chose to express their support for Fernando Alonso by barracking McLaren from the grandstand opposite the pits.
The chanting extended to racial insults targeted directly at Hamilton. Policemen were sent into the stands in an attempt to silence the troublemakers, and extra security surrounded the team in the paddock. The scenes generated huge coverage in the British press, making the front pages of many newspapers.
The FIA quickly made it clear that any repeat of such behaviour at subsequent tests in the country could threaten the future of both the Barcelona and Valencia Grands Prix, and FIA president Max Mosley told the Sunday Times that “we will do whatever it takes.” He also revealed that Hamilton’s father Anthony had told him that Lewis had previously encountered problems with Spanish spectators in China.
Barcelona organisers reacted to the controversy by promising to take a zero-tolerance approach to racism, and vowed that there would be no repeat of the abusive scenes. The governing body subsequently announced it will be running a ‘Racing Against Racism’ scheme, which is to be launched just prior to the Spanish Grand Prix in April.