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Ecclestone dismisses need for anti-racism campaign

NEWS STORY
17/02/2008

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has said he believes the FIA has over-reacted to recent incidents during testing at Barcelona by announcing the creation of an anti-racism campaign, to be called 'Racing Against Racism'

The FIA has yet to officially give details of the campaign which is understood to be launched at the Spanish Grand Prix in April. However, it is understood that teams, drivers, circuit bosses and circuit bosses are to be encouraged to sign up to the campaign.

In the wake of the incidents at Barcelona earlier this month, the most infamous being exclusively broken by Pitpass, the FIA came under fierce attack, particularly in the British media, for its perceived lack of action.

Although the most shocking incident - whereby 'fans' blacked-up their faces and donned T-Shirts bearing the words 'Hamilton Familly' (sic) - only involved seven individuals, there were calls for Spain to be punished by having both its rounds of the 2008 World Championship cancelled, a move that would not go down well with Ecclestone.

Clearly reeling from the media criticism, the FIA subsequently leaked details of 'Racing Against Racism', though the sport's governing body has yet to make any form of official announcement as to how it will work, leading to some suggesting that it is merely a knee-jerk reaction aimed at appeasing the press.

Clearly, Ecclestone feels there is no need for such a campaign, claiming that what happened Barcelona was a 'one-off'.

"I don't think it's necessary," he told BBC 5 Live. "What it does, all of these things, is it gives attention to the people that want attention.

"I don't think they are fans and I don't think they were supporting Alonso in particular," he added, though the seven fans in the pictures taken by Pitpass photographer Joanne Burnett had the words 'Alonso No. 1' on the back of their T-Shirts. "They just like to abuse people.

"This is just an isolated incident," the Englishman insisted.

Hamilton, the first black driver to participate in the Formula One World Championship, had a sensational debut season, and captured the imagination of many in the UK who had not previously followed F1. In a season in which Britain once again floundered in almost every international sport in which it participated, Hamilton came close to pulling off a sensation by winning the title at the first attempt.

Young, gifted and black, many believe that Hamilton could do for F1 what Tiger Woods has done for golf, bringing new blood to the sport, not just in terms of fans but as participants.

Asked how he thought the incidents might have affected Hamilton, Ecclestone said: "I don't think he would be affected by it. I think he is strong enough to know it is all nonsense."

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