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Just when you think it cannot get any worse...

NEWS STORY
17/10/2007

If reports are correct, the ongoing nonsense over 'fair play' at McLaren has taken a further, sordid turn for the worse, with the Spanish Motorsport Federation president Carlos Gracia playing the race card.

Ahead of this weekend's all-important season-finale, Gracia effectively accused the British of being racist, claiming that British fans supporting Lewis Hamilton, Formula One's first black driver, is "ironic".

Asked about the level of support Hamilton is enjoying, Gracia is claimed to have said - and thereby taking this sorry saga to a new low: "It's understandable that they want to make the most of it. But given how racist they are in England, the fact that they have to rely on a coloured driver... They tried it with (Jenson) Button and he let them down."

However, Gracia has now denied making such a comment, claiming that his remarks were taken out of context.

"I'm very surprised by what was published and lament the interpretation which has been put on the words," he told Reuters. "They were taken out of context and wrongly interpreted.

"I want to make it clear that I do not believe in stereotyping any nationality," he added. "There was no racist element to what I said and I am a great admirer of England. I did not say that.

"The accusations that have emerged go against the very principles I've defended in 23 years at the head of the Spanish Federation. What I meant was that England have been looking for a Formula One idol for many years and no matter who he was they were going to give him all their support. I have always had great respect for Hamilton as a driver and that respect remains even though he can take the title away from Alonso."

It was Gracia who previously cast doubt on whether or not McLaren would give Fernando Alonso total equality in Brazil, thereby leading to the FIA appointing a special scrutineer, dubbed by Pitpass the 'fair play Tsar'.

Referring to his previous doubts, Gracia said: "I'm convinced that Hamilton and Alonso are going to get exactly the same treatment. McLaren have demonstrated their professionalism over many years and so has Ron Dennis.

"I met with Ron Dennis at his request in Madrid this morning," he told Reuters, "and we discussed the season and that meeting confirmed my confidence in him and the team."

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