The Spanish government on Friday accused Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone of insulting Spain by conditioning Valencia's new European Grand Prix on an electoral victory for a conservative opposition party.
"These are lamentable, unfortunate and worrying statements," Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega told a news conference.
"In the first place because it shows a clear lack of democratic culture, and secondly because it's an insult, a lack of respect to everyone, to the people of Valencia and all Spaniards," said the Socialist politician.
Ecclestone said on Thursday that Valencia would host a Grand Prix from 2008 on a circuit around the city's new America's Cup port, but only if the current president of Valencia's local government, Francisco Camps, is reelected on May 27.
Camps is a member of the conservative opposition Popular Party and Ecclestone's deal was the top front page Friday story on Spain's biggest-selling newspaper, left-leaning El Pais, which also scolded the racing boss in an editorial.
"The motor racing patron has the right to decide where to run races, but not to campaign in such an obvious way for a particular party just before elections he is not allowed to vote in," El Pais said.