While admitting that the actions of a minority should not be condoned, David Coulthard has claimed that Formula One does not
have a racism problem.
Speaking in the wake of his retirement from the top flight, and reacting to comments attributed to F1 commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone, the Scot insisted that the sport should not make too much out of a few incidents which had been widely reported in the media as the centred on new F1 main man, Lewis Hamilton.
The sport's governing body, the FIA, launched its own anti-racism campaign in the wake of the Hamilton family being mocked by Spanish fans with blacked up faces and derogatory T-shirt slogans during a pre-season test at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya in February, and the issue took a back-seat for much of the year until stories about an anti-Hamilton website emerged in the run-up to the decisive Brazilian Grand Prix last weekend.
"I think we'd be doing ourselves an injustice if we built it into more than it is," Coulthard told Britain's Daily Telegraph
newspaper, "Racism shouldn't be tolerated – and we don't - [but] I don't think we have a problem in Formula One."
Coulthard also defended Ecclestone after he was derided for apparently making light of the situation surrounding the abuse of Hamilton. Although Ecclestone has since back-tracked and insisted that comments taken to refer to the abuse as 'a joke' were really meant to describe those involved as 'a joke', Coulthard has admitted that the 78-year old may have been a little naive to have entered the debate in such a way.
"I endorse Bernie's views - it's trying to be built into something much bigger than it is," the Scot maintained, "From what I saw in Barcelona and Brazil, I don't think we have a racism issue. You will get people who aren't racist specifically but are just anti-success or anti-anything that's different.
"I was spat at at Monza in 1999 after a shunt with Michael Schumacher. Where were the complaints for me? If that had been Lewis, there would have been an almighty uproar."