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F1 NEWS 

Ecclestone: racism row a 'one-off'

Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone thinks that the racism row that has overshadowed the sport in recent weeks was just a 'one-off'.

The scenes of racist abuse hurled at Lewis Hamilton by Spanish fans during recent testing at Barcelona in Spain made the front pages of newspapers, and resulted in the FIA threatening to drop Spain's two grands prix and launching an anti-racism campaign in motor racing.

But Ecclestone has moved to play down the row in an interview with BBC Radio 5's Sportsweek programme, reckoning the activities of a minority of racing fans is not about to set a precedent for other spectators.

"I don't think it's necessary," said Ecclestone about the anti-racism drive prompted by the Barcelona events. "All it does, like all these things, is give attention to the people who want attention.

"I think in Barcelona it was the group of people who caused the same trouble at the football. I don't think they're fans; I don't think they're anything, and I don't think they were supporting (Fernando) Alonso in particular.

"I think they just like to abuse people. It was a one-off, nothing to worry about."

Ecclestone also thinks that Hamilton will not be affected by what happened at Barcelona, especially because the sport's leading figures moved so quickly to condemn the behaviour.

"I don't think he would be affected by it. I think he is strong enough to know it is all nonsense," he said.

Speaking about Hamilton's chances for the new season, Ecclestone said: "He was under no pressure at all last year, but this year he is going to be under pressure, and that's the problem.

"But I think he is up to it. I think he will cope. It won't faze him. He knows what he can do and what he can't do."

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