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Page last updated at 15:11 GMT, Thursday, 24 April 2008 16:11 UK

F1 anti-racism campaign launched

Lewis Hamilton signs autographs for Spanish fans
McLaren driver Hamilton says he has put the racism row behind him

Formula One bosses have launched their 'Everyrace' anti-racism campaign at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona ahead of Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix.

The initiative was prompted by racist abuse levelled at Lewis Hamilton when he tested at the circuit in February.

"The sport is about a driver's ability and this will never have anything to do with their race or skin colour," said F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone.

Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa were among the drivers attending the launch.

Under-fire world motorsport boss Max Mosley was not in Barcelona to endorse the plan.

His future is in jeopardy after a newspaper accused him of taking part in a "Nazi-style orgy" with five prostitutes. He denies his actions had Nazi connotations and has apologised for any embarrassment.

International Automobile Federation (FIA) president Mosley, 68, who faces a vote of confidence in June, is attending this weekend's Jordan Rally.

In a statement to mark the 'Everyrace' launch, he said: "One thing that most attracted me to motor sport was that nobody cared about your background, race, gender or religion; all that mattered was how quick you were."

McLaren driver Hamilton says he has put the taunting he suffered earlier this year behind him as attempts to close a five-point gap on championship leader Raikkonen this weekend.

"The Circuit de Catalunya is a great track, there are so many enthusiastic fans which makes for a great atmosphere," he said.

606: DEBATE
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Apart from the racist jibes, some local fans still hold a grudge against Hamilton following last year's feud with his ex team-mate, and Spanish favourite, Fernando Alonso.

Hamilton won the opening Grand Prix of this season, in Australia, but came fifth in Malaysia and 13th in Bahrain.

He said his experience in Bahrain had taught him a lesson.

"I realised that when things go wrong at the beginning of the race I need to use damage limitation.

"I fell back to 10th and then tried to regain my positions early on, and that was a big mistake.

"I will also make sure what happened at the beginning of the race [when he stalled on the grid] never happens again."

Ferrari and BMW Sauber are finding more speed from their cars than McLaren. But Hamilton said: "All the teams are continuously progressing.

"I feel we have a competitive package at the track where the car seems to work quite well. "We have a range of new components on board for this race which we tested last week and had some positive results."


see also
Hamilton confident ahead of Spain
17 Apr 08 |  Formula One
I've let down the team - Hamilton
07 Apr 08 |  Formula One
Massa wins as Hamilton stumbles
06 Apr 08 |  Formula One
Hamilton unhurt in Bahrain crash
04 Apr 08 |  Formula One
Raikkonen eases to Malaysia win
23 Mar 08 |  Formula One
Hamilton wins dramatic F1 opener
16 Mar 08 |  Formula One
Hamilton saddened by racist abuse
04 Feb 08 |  Formula One


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