Hamilton due back in Spain for McLaren tests

Business Materials 11 February 2008 21:46 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa )- British racer Lewis Hamilton will return to Spain this week to test the new McLaren-Mercedes Formula One car ahead of the start of the season next month, the team said Monday.

The British driver was the subject of racist abuse during testing in Barcelona earlier this month.

Hamilton and team-mate Heikki Kovalainen of Finland are due to test the MP4-23 on the Circuito de Jerez in Andalusia on Wednesday and Thursday. Third driver Pedro de la Rosa of Spain is expected on the track on Tuesday.

Hamilton - the first black driver ever to compete in Formula 1 - was jeered and insulted when he moved between the McLaren-Mercedes motorhome in the paddock and the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona.

It led to the ruling motorsport body FIA warning that Spain could face "serious sanctions" if there were any repeats of the incident.

But a spokesman for the circuit in Jerez said there were no plans for added protection for Hamilton and no special security was to be hired.

"We are not going to adopt any special measures because neither FIA nor McLaren have asked us to," a circuit spokesman told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

"We have not had any incidents of that kind in the over 20 years the circuit has been around," the spokesman said. "Besides, Hamilton has come here 20,000 times and he has gone crazy signing autographs."

Hamilton has been locked in a bitter rivalry and evident clashes with Spain's own star driver Fernando Alonso. Both were at McLaren together last season, although the Spaniard has since left to return to Renault.

"Logically, if an insulting banner appeared, the circuit would pull it down. That cannot be allowed in sport," the circuit official said. "But nothing of the sort has ever happened here."