MP calls for action over racist Hamilton website

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The Independent Online

The Foreign Secretary was urged today to make a formal protest to the Spanish government over the racist abuse of Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton.

World governing body the FIA and Hamilton's McLaren team have been quick to condemn a "voodoo-style" website in Spain where hundreds of abusive messages have been posted.

Visitors to the site, which was not working this lunchtime, have been encouraged to drop imaginary nails, pins or porcupines on a mock-up of the Interlagos circuit.

The 23-year-old will take to the Sao Paulo circuit on Sunday for the Brazilian Grand Prix, needing only to finish in the top five to become the youngest champion in Formula One history.

Labour MP Keith Vaz, chairman of the party's Ethnic Minority Taskforce, today condemned the abuse from F1 fans and said more action needed to be taken.

He urged Foreign Secretary David Miliband to formally protest to Spain asking them to take whatever steps necessary to stop the abuse.

Mr Vaz said it was clear that the website - named Pincha la Rueda de Hamilton, which translates as Burst Hamilton's Tyre - was set up to destabilise Hamilton before this weekend's race.

He said: "The Spanish government cannot stand back and allow this organised and systematic racism to continue. These people must be widely condemned and the websites that they use shut down immediately.

"I call upon the Foreign Secretary to make a formal protest to the Spanish government urging them to act on this serious issue that looks set only to escalate if action is not taken now."

The FIA yesterday condemned the "abusive and hateful" comments left on the website, many of which refer to Hamilton's colour.

A notice on the website read: "Hamilton can't finish the race. We have to stop him however we can.

"All you have to do is choose a spike, place it where you want on the circuit and hope he suffers a historic puncture."

On leaving the website, an automated message informs visitors: "We hope Hamilton punctures thanks to your help."

Earlier this year the FIA launched their EveryRace campaign after Hamilton was the target of racist abuse at a test session in Barcelona.