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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Britain and Spain at war over racism row
  • UK minister to widen Spanish racism protest
  • Badoer lauds Kimi's 'great' Bahrain pace
  • Gauteng reacts to Renault deal criticism
  • F1 plays role in Versailles election

Britain and Spain at war over racism row
(GMM)  The formula one racism scandal involving Lewis Hamilton has turned into a media slanging match between Britain and Spain, as both accuse the other side of wielding the more serious prejudices.

English tabloid The Sun published photos of spectators at the Circuit de Catalunya wearing black makeup and wigs, while the Times accused the Spanish media of "overlooking" the vile incident.

"The Spanish media all but ignored the controversy over Hamilton's treatment in Barcelona," the London newspaper claimed.

But swarms of prominent Spanish newspapers roundly condemned the abuse of F1's only black driver, in step with the country's motor sports authority and the Spanish grand prix venue.

La Vanguardia called for a "zero tolerance" attitude to racist "lunatics", and El Mundo said Montmelo had been the scene of an "embarrassing spectacle" for Spain.

Britain's The Independent, however, said the incident revealed an underlying racist element to modern Spanish culture.

"It's pretty clear that they are decades behind Britain when it comes to attitudes towards race," an editorial read.

A headline in the Daily Telegraph announced that "Racism is Spanish sport", declaring that "there is something seriously wrong with their authorities who have not taught the masses that such behavior is unacceptable.

"This may be because the authorities do not see such behavior as unacceptable," it added.

A writer for Diario AS slammed the British press and said the bad behavior of a dozen Spaniards at the weekend had been reported as the work of thousands.

"Generalization is a dangerous habit, which often leads to wrong conclusions and is almost always unfair," the columnist wrote.

"Especially because an uncontrolled individual can cause tremendous prejudice against a whole group, as we are used to seeing at many sporting events."

Another AS article said the Barcelona incident had morphed into a "disproportionate snowball" in the press, and named the "English press" as having denounced Spanish sports fans as "racist because of a few isolated" wrongdoers.

Circuit de Catalunya boss Ramon Praderas also accused the media of "in some cases taking the incident out of context".

"To say we are a racist country is an exaggeration," he said.  "There were many more people who took happy photos with Hamilton.

"The history of Spanish sport is full of examples such as these and a few individuals will not spoil this for us."

UK minister to widen Spanish racism protest
(GMM)  UK sport minister Gerry Sutcliffe has promised to widen the Lewis Hamilton racism scandal by writing to his government counterparts in Spain.

Britain reacted with horror to the translations of foul language and banners directed at F1's only black driver last weekend, and angrily published photos of Spanish test spectators - also accused of throwing rubbish at the McLaren team - at the Circuit de Catalunya mockingly wearing black makeup and curly wigs.

Sutcliffe said the Barcelona events as portrayed by the media were "sickening" and told British reporters that he will be using official channels to express his condemnation.

"I am going to write to the Spanish sports minister to express our ongoing concern about racism suffered by our sportsmen," he said.

"I'd like to see our government make a really big issue of this.

"Racism should not be tolerated and this brings into question whether the grand prix should be held at this track," the MP added.

Badoer lauds Kimi's 'great' Bahrain pace
(GMM)  Ferrari's rivals should tremble at the "lightening" speed shown by the Italian team's 2008 car as a long winter test kicked off in Bahrain on Monday, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

The Italian sports daily reveals that, on two runs, reigning world champion Kimi Raikkonen - circulating as per this season's rules without driver aids - went quicker than teammate Felipe Massa's pole position time set at the same Sakhir circuit last April.

Finn Raikkonen's rapid lap in Bahrain was also a full 1.3 seconds faster than the only non-Ferrari competitor at the circuit for the six days of testing, Toyota, whose fastest TF108 model was driven by German racer Timo Glock.

Ferrari test driver Luca Badoer, testing alongside Raikkonen on Monday in a sister F2008, was delighted with the outcome of the initial day's running on the sandy track.

"Kimi did a great time, and it is only the first of six days here.  (On Monday) we only began to look at the possible developments for this track and similar ones," the Italian said.

Gauteng reacts to Renault deal criticism
(GMM)  South Africa's Gauteng province on Monday had to reject criticism that its formula one sponsorship of the Renault team is a waste of taxpayers' money.

It was announced recently that the French squad had entered a one-year partnership to promote Gauteng and increase tourism, job creation and the economy.

But the national South African tabloid The Citizen slammed the Renault deal, saying taxpayers were effectively funding a (US) $12 million deal to put a logo on a F1 car.

"The partnership agreement between the Gauteng Provincial Government and the Renault F1 Team is not about placing an advert on the F1 car as alleged in the article," the department of economic planning said.

"The partnership also does not involve the amount of money anywhere in the region alleged in the article," it added.

The department said the hope of the F1 tie-up is to profile Gauteng internationally as a destination for investment and a home of competitive sport.

"The partnership will therefore have major spin-offs in terms of job creation and contributing to the accelerated growth of the provincial economy," it said.

F1 plays role in Versailles election
(GMM)  Formula one has emerged as a leading topic in the French municipal election campaign in Versailles.

The French national daily Le Figaro on Monday ran a page-two article titled "(F1) in pole position in the campaign", outlining how efforts to move the country's formula one race to the wealthy Paris suburb is now a central debate by political candidates.

Versailles mayor Etienne Pinte rejects French minister Christine Albanel's view that a formula one street race should not be held in the city because of the many historic monuments.

"In a town like Monaco where there are a lot more constraints than in Versailles, there has never been a problem," the mayor argues.

Pinte also thinks the race could be developed at Satory plain, a former tank testing ground that is now used by Peugeot.

The UMP political party reportedly support Pinte's argument about the economical sense of Versailles staging a grand prix, although opponents have slammed the proposals as "aberrant and contrary to our engagements in sustainable development".

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