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FIA to launch investigation into "racist incident" at Barcelona

NEWS STORY
10/05/2009

The FIA has announced that it will launch investigation after a race 'fan' attending today's Spanish GP was pictured with his face 'blacked up', mirroring an incident, at the same track, that caused international outrage just over a year ago.

Shortly before today's race got underway, a white Spanish race fan, wearing a McLaren shirt and holding a replica steering wheel, was pictured with his entire head blacked-up, in what can only be seen as a deliberate attempt to mock Lewis Hamilton, the sport's first mixed-race driver. Witnessing the fan, BBC pundits David Coulthard and Eddie Jordan both admitted surprise that he had been allowed to parade in this manner when it was only a year ago that organizers at Barcelona were hauled over the coals by the FIA following an incident that caused worldwide outrage.

At that time, a group of Spanish fans - pictured (above) exclusively for Pitpass by Joanne Burnett - were seen attending a test session at the circuit with their faces blacked up, grey wigs on their heads and sporting T-Shirts bearing the slogan 'Hamilton's Familly' (sic). The incident led to the FIA warning the Catalunya track that it risked losing its place on the F1 calendar should there be any further similar incident. The sport's governing body also subsequently launched its own anti-racism initiative, EveryRace

Speaking tonight, an FIA spokesman confirmed that the organization will be launching an investigation. "We are aware of it and we are looking into it," he said.

At the beginning of the weekend, Lewis Hamilton was honoured with a special plaque on the circuit's 'Champions' Avenue' alongside similar plaques for Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso.

Ironically, moments after the incident, while introducing the next section of the BBC's coverage of the pre-race build-up, presenter Jake Humphrey referred to Fernando Alonso's fans as, ahem, "colourful".

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