Lewis Hamilton told today of his torment after being subjected to racist abuse as he tested his new Formula One car in Spain.
Fans at Barcelona’s Montmelo circuit shouted “black s***”, “black whore” and “f****** blacks” whenever the British driver, 23, made a pit stop.
Hamilton, a hate figure in Spain due to his bitter rivalry last season with former double world champion Fernando Alonso, said today: “The truth is I feel quite sad.
Abused: Lewis Hamilton pictured during testing at the Circuit de Catalunya on Saturday
“I love this country, especially the city of Barcelona and this circuit, which is one of my three favourites.
“The Spanish people have always been very warm to me, and even though I thought something like this might happen, it wasn’t pleasant … But I’m still positive, as I still have great fans and friends in Spain.
“The only thing I have done is to try to do my best and try to win the championship.
“I never tried to harm Fernando (Alonso) deliberately, but the battle was very tough, and my image in Spain has been badly damaged.”
Alonso, 26, from Asturias in northern Spain, was Hamilton’s team-mate at McLaren but has since returned to Renault.
In the most closely-fought Formula One title in years, both eventually missed out in the last race to Kimi Raikkonen, who claimed the world title.
Hamilton, speaking to the Spanish motorsport website SportLifePress.com, added: “I have learned a lot this year and I hope I won’t commit the same errors. We have a great car, a great team and the desire.”
Formula One chiefs said today the fans’ behaviour could lead to sanctions against two Spanish circuits. The Circuit de Catalunya is scheduled to stage the Spanish Grand Prix in May and Valencia the European Grand Prix for the first time three months later.
Officials warned both could be stripped of their events if there is a repeat of the abuse during pre-season tests which are scheduled to take place at Spanish circuits before next month’s opening race.
Racism has plagued Spanish sport in recent years. The Spanish FA was fined ??44,750 after England stars Ashley Cole and Shaun Wright-Phillips were subjected to monkey chants during a 2004 friendly.