I have written before about the dangerously partisan, disgracefully nationalistic coverage of Formula 1. There is only one logical conclusion to taking a nationalistic angle in coverage of sports that have nothing to do with nationality.
Some British media outlets are guilty of putting an anti-Spanish angle into elements of their F1 coverage last year. It reached an all-time low when some papers insinuated that McLaren’s Spanish drivers Fernando Alonso and Pedro de la Rosa were “at the centre” of the Stepneygate scandal. This completely ignored the fact that the real protagonists of the scandal — Nigel Stepney and Mike Coughlan — are both British!
Now Pitpass is reporting that the partisan crowd during testing in Spain has taken a nastier turn:
Yesterday, according [to] the Spanish newspaper Marca, shouts of “puto negro” (fucking black) and “negro de mierda” (black shit) were clearly heard, and that large sections of the crowd were involved.
Pitpass also has photographs of a group of people tastelessly “blacking up”, wearing t-shirts bearing the words “Hamilton’s Familly [sic]”. This is absolutely disgusting. A lot of people find it far too easy to pluck out an accusation of racism whenever it is suggested that Hamilton might not be the messiah, but there can be no doubt about the nature of these people’s demonstrations.
The article also notes that “such insidious behaviour has never been part of Formula One” — although a cynic could say that this was because of the paucity of nonwhite drivers in F1 historically.
There have been growing concerns about the nature of the “supporters” who have been turning up to test sessions in Valencia, Barcelona and Jerez. For instance, yesterday Keith Collantine wrote:
But what I do find odd is that there are some Alonso fans who got up this morning, and decided to make a banner because they were going to an F1 test. But instead of making a banner supporting Alonso, they made one attacking Hamilton.
There are a billion reasons to like F1. I don’t like the thought that some people who buy Grand Prix tickets are in it for the hate.
There have also been reports that some people have been throwing missiles at the McLaren cars. This is totally unacceptable in Formula 1 for obvious reasons.
I don’t necessarily mind some of the more humorous anti-Hamilton banners that have been on display. My personal favourite read “Lewis, have you learnt to pee by yourself, or does daddy still help you?” — mocking the overbearing presence of Lewis Hamilton’s father which has seen Anthony Hamilton become a minor celebrity in his own right.
But there is a difference between this kind of teasing and the kind of outright racism that is beginning to be reported. Pitpass calls on Fernando Alonso “to publicly distance himself from these so-called fans”. But this isn’t Fernando Alonso’s fault. He has nothing to do with these racists, and has never spoken about Hamilton in terms of his race.
But the media should immediately stop its disgustingly debased coverage of Formula 1 — in the UK as well as in Spain.