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Last Updated: Friday November 07 2008 16:38 GMT

F1 boss clears air with Hamilton

Bernie Ecclestone and Lewis Hamilton

Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone says he's cleared the air with Lewis Hamilton after a row over the abuse Hamilton's been getting from fans.

Earlier in the year, Hamilton, F1's first black world champion, was mocked by some fans at a Spanish racetrack.

F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone sparked outrage by making comments that seemed to play down the abuse, and calling the fans' behaviour "a joke".

But Ecclestone's now said that wasn't what he meant.

Bernie Ecclestone (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone

"I meant they (the Spanish fans) were a joke, clowns," he explained.

"I've spoken with Lewis's dad Anthony and he understands, everything's fine."

Hamilton became the sport's youngest, and first ever black or mixed-race, world champion when he pipped Felipe Massa to the title in Brazil on Sunday.

But he's hated by some Spanish fans because of his rivalry with the country's former world champion, Fernando Alonso.

Abuse

In February, some fans turned up at a race track in Barcelona with blackened faces and wearing wigs, and Formula One launched an anti-racism campaign.

After being criticised by anti-racism groups for his earlier comments, Ecclestone said: "If I had had the opportunity, I would have got those guys, dragged them into the paddock and asked them to explain themselves."

Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and McLaren Mercedes celebrates (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

Hamilton says the incident was something that happened in the past - and he won't allow the fans' behaviour to get to him.

"What's more important to me is that I had a lot of support, especially from UK fans," he said.

"I'm proud to see my fellow countrymen holding up the flag. All the other stuff I need to put behind me."