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Page last updated at 21:05 GMT, Sunday, 10 May 2009 22:05 UK

F1 launches racism investigation

A 'blacked-up' fan at the Spanish GP

'Blacked-up' fan causes Spain controversy

Motorsport's governing body says it is investigating after a member of the crowd with a blacked-up face was filmed at the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona.

The pictures showed a man with a blacked-up face, arms and hands, wearing a McLaren T-shirt and holding a Formula 1-style steering wheel.

Last year world champion Lewis Hamilton was subjected to racist taunts during a test session at the same circuit.

An FIA spokesperson said: "We are aware of it and we are looking into it."

Hamilton, who drives for McLaren, is F1's first driver of Afro-Caribbean origin, and became its youngest world champion in 2008.

There were no indications that Hamilton suffered any abuse on Sunday.

But the incident brings back memories of 15 months ago when a group of people with their faces painted black, sporting curly wigs and T-shirts adorned with the words "Hamilton's family".

It caused outrage worldwide and prompted the FIA to launch an anti-racism initiative, EveryRace.

Circuit bosses in Barcelona were warned they risked losing their place on the calendar should there be a repeat.

At the time, the Spanish fans' animosity was linked to the fact that Hamilton had been involved in a bitter row with his then McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso throughout the 2007 season that culminated in the Spaniard's departure from the team.

The latest incident comes two days after Hamilton was honoured by current Barcelona track boss Ramon Praderas with a special ceremony in the paddock to mark his achievement of becoming world champion.

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see also
F1 boss clears air with Hamilton
07 Nov 08 |  Formula 1
F1 boss plays down Hamilton abuse
06 Nov 08 |  Formula 1
Spanish F1 track honours Hamilton
08 May 09 |  Formula 1
F1 anti-racism campaign launched
24 Apr 08 |  Formula 1
Spaniards are not racist - Alonso
21 Feb 08 |  Formula 1
Taunted Hamilton returns to Spain
12 Feb 08 |  Formula 1
Circuit acts on Hamilton incident
05 Feb 08 |  Formula 1
Hamilton saddened by racist abuse
04 Feb 08 |  Formula 1

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