FIA threatens Spanish sanctions after Hamilton racially abused

Motor racing’s governing body, the FIA, have threatened sanctions on Spanish tracks following racial abuse targetted at Formula One’s first-ever black driver, Lewis Hamilton, over the weekend during testing at the Circuit de Catalunya.

There are four Spanish tracks on the yearly Formula One calendar – two (Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona and Valencia streets) for races and two others (Valencia’s Ricardo Tomo and Jerez) for practice and testing, and the FIA has warned that action would be taken against race organisers if there was to be any repeat of such incidence in the future.

According to the BBC, an FIA spokesman has hit out at the abuse suffered by Hamilton, saying “this is a clear breach of FIA principles and any repetition will result in serious sanctions.”

However, this goes beyond sport and into politics. The British Sports Minister, Gerry Sutcliffe, has gotten involved in this row – the latest to involve black British sportsmen in Spain. He has been cited as saying that he wants the FIA to take action now, questioning if this year’s Spanish Grand Prix should go ahead at the Circuit de Catalunya as planned. “I am also going to write to the Spanish Sports Minister to express our ongoing concern about racism suffered by our sportsmen,” he added.

Hamilton’s team, McLaren, have also issued a statement expressing their disappointment at the weekend’s developments. These have been echoed by the Spanish national-level equivalent to the FIA, the RFE, saying it was “[absolutely repulsed]” at the “incomprehensible incidents” that had taken place, calling the perpetrators “idiots that are confusing sporting rivalry with violence”.

McLaren will test at Jerez in the middle of next week. By then hopefully Hamilton’s former team-mate, Spaniard Fernando Alonso, will have come out against these incidents, and we won’t see a repeat. If we do, the FIA must strip Spain of both its Grands Prix.

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