The racism and improper behaviour of fans in Formula 1 is back in the news. Bernie Ecclestone believes that the events earlier this year during Barcelona test were more joke than racist abuse. Jaime Martin, F1 editor of Spanish newspaper Marca accepts they may have been racist “but if Lewis was bald, the insults would have related to his baldness.” Ecclestone also considers the booing aimed at Hamilton in Brazil last weekend or back in Valencia during European GP as normal expressions of allegiance by home fans:
“In Spain people supported Fernando Alonso and in Brazil they supported Felipe Massa. People are entitled to support who they want to support. When was (Hamilton) insulted? Do you remember the Ferrari guys that wore the red wigs? People are expressing themselves.”
I think these opinions can be summed up be Ecclestone’s words:
“People look and read things into something that is not there.”
Is Bernie right or is he wrong ?
Understandably, Lewis Hamilton did not find the abuse aimed at him earlier this year in Barcelona funny. It is hard to blame him. But many people get easily offended also by perfectly innocent jokes that they take personally. So when the problem lies with the “joker” and when with the target of the joke ?
People regularly made fun of David Coulthard’s slightly bigger and more square than usual jaw. Just google “David Coulthard jaw” and see. Was it funny or was it abuse ?
Football fans boo when the oposing team attacks or takes a penalty. Is that considered supporting the home team or abusing the visitors ?
When Ferrari crew started to celebrate when hamilton spun in Japan following the collision with Massa was that celebration of Massa getting ahead of his title rival or happines over Hamilton dropping to the back ?
When Ferrari and Massa’s family started to celebrate what they thought was the 2008 drivers title, was it celebration of Massa winning the title or Hamilton loosing out to Vettel ?
How far are fans and supporters allowed to go ? What is proper and what is not ? What is funny and what is abusive ? Where is the line that should not be crossed ?
I would be happy to hear some opinions. But please, if you decide to contribute to the debate, keep it civilized.