Dennis praises Spanish fans' attitude
|By Jonathan Noble||Tuesday, April 29th 2008, 12:21 GMT|
McLaren boss Ron Dennis has praised the attitude of Spanish Formula One fans, telling autosport.com there was no evidence in Barcelona last weekend of a fallout from the sport's racism row or Fernando Alonso's troubles in 2007.
F1 had headed to the Circuit de Catalunya with memories of the winter racism row fresh in its mind, and the weekend likely to throw up strong feelings from Spanish fans desperate to see local hero Alonso shine on home turf.
But Dennis has said neither he nor the team experienced any evidence of bad manners against them and, indeed, he was surprised by how the Spanish fans reacted.
"We were received very warmly," said Dennis, who gave Spanish monarch King Juan Carlos a tour of the McLaren garage on race morning.
"As you know, the circuit is about 20 miles away from central Barcelona - and, each morning and evening, Friday-through-Sunday, as I drove from the hotel to the circuit and back again, I was pleasantly surprised by the friendly behaviour of Spanish race fans, who recognised my colleagues and me in the sometimes heavy traffic in downtown Barcelona and on the approach roads to the circuit.
"The many Fernando Alonso fans, the majority of whom were wearing Renault team shirts, were very friendly too, which merely confirms what we already know: namely that Spanish Formula One fans are as sportingly enthusiastic about their motorsport as are race fans anywhere in the world."
When asked about the racism row, which was sparked when Hamilton was on the receiving end of racial abuse at a testing session in early February, Dennis told autosport.com: "The incident to which you refer was very evidently an isolated one.
"I am 100 per cent certain that the overwhelming majority of Spanish race fans are what I like to refer to as 'true fans' - in other words, genuine lovers of motorsport, enthusiastic and knowledgeable, even-handed and sporting.
"The fact that Fernando Alonso's recent successes have pleased them is to be expected and indeed welcomed. Having said that, our own Spanish driver, Pedro de la Rosa, is also extremely popular in Spain - and rightly so."