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UK

Lewis Hamilton suffers racist abuse in Spain

MADRID (Reuters) - British Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton suffered racist abuse from Spanish fans during testing at the Montmelo circuit in Barcelona, Spanish media reported on Sunday.

McLaren's Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton drives on his car during a training session at Catalunya's racetrack in Montmelo, near Barcelona, February 2, 2008. Hamilton suffered racist abuse from Spanish fans during testing at the Montmelo circuit in Barcelona, Spanish media reported on Sunday. REUTERS/Albert Gea

Reports in a number of papers said the McLaren driver was booed and insulted whenever he made his way from the team motorhome and into the pits on Saturday.

The correspondent from sports daily Marca said that shouts of “puto negro” (fucking black) and “negro de mierda” (black shit) were clearly heard and that large sections of the crowd were involved.

“It is not right the way he is being treated,” McLaren test team manager Indy Lall was quoted as saying.

Marca said that the circuit director asked for fences to be put up around the McLaren paddock and ordered the removal of banners that had been put up opposite the team’s base.

Daily La Vanguardia also said the circuit director had reminded fans of their obligations at the venue.

“We would like to make a plea to the fans to behave correctly, no type of offensive behaviour can be tolerated,” circuit director Ramon Pradera was quoted as saying in the newspaper.

Hamilton, who finished runner-up in last year’s championship, has become a hate figure in Spain because of his rivalry with former McLaren team mate Fernando Alonso who now drives for Renault.

“McLaren has raced and tested on Spanish circuits for many years and everyone connected with the team regards Spain and the Spanish people with great affection, Lewis included,” said a McLaren spokeswoman.

Incidents of racism have plagued Spanish sport, in particular football, in recent years.

Reporting by Simon Baskett; Editing by Greg Stutchbury

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