I am not a racist, says Spanish F1 fan who 'blacked-up' for Hamilton
Friday 08 February 2008
One of the Spanish Formula One fans who caused a diplomatic storm by "blacking up" to hurl insults at the British driver Lewis Hamilton has insisted: "I am not a racist."
Toni Calderon was one of four fans who wore dark curly wigs, black make-up and T-shirts with the words "Hamilton's family" at the Montmelo circuit near Barcelona during testing last weekend. As Hamilton walked from the McClaren team paddock to the circuit last Saturday, he faced more insults and racist abuse.
Gerry Sutcliffe, Britain's Sports minister, condemned the incidents as "sickening" and said he would make an official protest to his Spanish counterpart.
Formula One's governing body, the FIA, has launched an investigation and could ban Spain from holding two Grands Prix in Barcelona and Valencia later this year.
Mr Calderon told the Spanish daily Publico: "We went last Sunday and we dressed up to celebrate Carnival. We wanted to give a touch of humour to Montmelo and have a laugh at the father of [Lewis] Hamilton. We didn't have the slightest intention to laugh at anyone, nor to laugh at the British driver for the colour of his skin.
"I am not a racist and it has made me ashamed to appear like that in the British press. Also, as I am in the middle of the photo [of four blacked up fans], I seem like the protagonist. This has angered me."
Mr Calderon said no one on security said a word when the group arrived at the circuit dressed as "Hamilton's family". "On the contrary, the people on security at the gate started laughing and let us pass," he said. "In fact half the people who saw us thought we were fans of Hamilton. Lots of people took pictures of us.
"If I had known that this was going to happen, I would never have dressed up, but I want to be very clear that we never intended to offend.
"We haven't done anything wrong. I would not have any problem to explain it personally to McClaren and Lewis who is a star."
Hamilton finished second in the drivers' championship last year in his rookie season and was widely blamed in Spain for the failure of his team-mate Fernando Alonso to win a third consecutive Formula One title. Hamilton said: "The truth is that I feel somewhat sad, I am in love with this country, and especially the city of Barcelona and this circuit, which is one of my three favourites."
The Spanish Motor Sports Federation expressed its "absolute repulsion" after the incident.
At Montmelo, circuit staff erected barriers around the McClaren paddock while banners making references to Hamilton and the team boss, Ron Dennis, were removed. The stands above McLaren's garage were cleared to ensure no missiles could be thrown.
Racism has dogged Spanish sport for many years and it is common at football matches for abuse to be directed at black players.
Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'
- 1 This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
- 2 Axe wielding man shot dead after attacking four New York policemen on busy street
- 3 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 4 Jimmy Carr's Oscar Pistorius joke goes a bit too far at the Q Awards
- 5 Ottawa shootings: Bruce MacKinnon's cartoon is the perfect tribute to soldier Nathan Cirillo
Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery rumours: 'I'm living a more fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
FCKH8: YouTube reinstates provocative anti-sexism video showing young girls swearing
This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
Axe wielding man shot dead after attacking four New York policemen on busy street
Jimmy Carr's Oscar Pistorius joke goes a bit too far at the Q Awards
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Attacks on 'Ukip Calypso' show how skewed people’s priorities are
£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£47,334 - £59,058 per annum: Coventry University: The Centre for Agroecology, ...