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Home > India > Sports > Formula One > Reuters > Report

Hamilton quickest on return to Spain

February 13, 2008 11:20 IST

Lewis Hamilton [Images] set the pace in Formula One testing at Jerez on Tuesday on the McLaren driver's first appearance in Spain since suffering racial abuse in Barcelona nine days ago.

With few spectators at the southern track and no repeat of the taunting that marred his appearance at the Circuit de Catalunya, it was business as usual for Formula One's first black driver.

The 23-year-old Briton did 89 laps with a best time of one minute 19.102 seconds.

McLaren's Spanish test driver Pedro de la Rosa was second in 1:19.287 with BMW [Images] Sauber's Polish driver Robert Kubica third on the timesheets and Japan's [Images] Kazuki Nakajima a promising fourth for Williams. Champions Ferrari [Images] and Toyota were absent.

Japan's Takuma Sato also joined the session for his first test of the year with Honda-backed Super Aguri, driving the team's interim car.

Despite the spotlight being on the local fans after the governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) warned of heavy sanctions if there was any repeat of the Barcelona incidents, the day was uneventful.

"There were no cheers, no boos, no barriers and virtually no fans either," said BBC radio commentator David Croft at the circuit.

Hamilton, who won four races and finished as overall runner-up in his rookie season, has become a hate figure in Spain for his rivalry with double world champion Fernando Alonso [Images].

The Spaniard, who was his team mate last year before returning to Renault, is likely to pull in more of a crowd when he joins the test on Wednesday.

Australian Mark Webber, who drives for Red Bull, said it would be wrong to punish Spain for the actions of a few individuals.

He doubted also that Hamilton would win the locals over any time soon.

"We have two races in Spain -- one in Barcelona and one in Valencia. They will be extremely well attended and the fans won't like Lewis and probably won't for a long time, but that's the way they are," he told the BBC.

"They didn't like Michael [Schumacher] either."

The season starts in Australia on March 16.

© Copyright 2008 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.
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