In England they did not like it at all when a handful of fans shouted at Lewis Hamilton during last weekend's training sessions at Montmeló, and the wave of denuncistions of racism that has appeared in the British press is threatening a diplomatic conflict. The English government does not seem happy with the apologies given by the racetrack's management nor with the censure of the FIA, and has called for the suspension of the Grand Prix of Catalonia.
Lewis Hamilton is a hero in England because he was supposed to take over from Damon Hill, the most recent English Formula 1 champion in 1996. His not winning the world championship was an authentic national tragedy, and they have not liked at all the fact that a handful of fans received him at Montmeló with signs, chants, insults, and racist attacks.
The English press, the first in feeding the flames of the Hamilton-Alonso rivalry, has accused Spain of racism, recalling episodes like Luis Aragones insulting Henry or the chants against Eto'o in Zaragoza, and has mounted a campaign to censure the intolerable conduct of a few fanatics.
The racetrack had already done everything possible to put an end to such conduct--they confiscated banners, prevented hostilities against Hamilton from the stands, and expelled fans--and official bodies have criticized it rotundly, but in England they are still denouncing the attack suffered by Hamilton above and beyond the sporting rivalry with the Spanish champion.
Because of this, the British sports minister, Gerry Sutcliffe, announced yesterday that he would send a letter to the FIA and the Spanish government prpopsing the cancellation of the Grand Prix of Catalonia, while demanding that steps be taken to combat the xenophobic campaign that Lewis Hamilton is the victim of.
Even TV3 is blaming this mess on the sensationalistic English press who are out to get Alonso; it claims that the British minister's anger is due to the media coverage and not to the racist insults, it whitewashes the performance of the track management, it chalks British irritation up to rivalry between fans rather than disgust at racism, it downplays the character of the insults (they were dressed up like monkeys yelling "fucking nigger" at him), it shifts the focus from Catalonia to Spain as a whole, and it falsely claims that only a few people were guilty of the insults when large parts of the crowd were.
There are four comments. One blames the English press and its hidden interests; one says the incident was no big deal; one calls the English hypocritical drunken hooligans; and the last blames the English press and says any anger is due to Hamilton's losing out last year.