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Formula 1 News - February, 2008
Watson backs Hamilton in Alonso stoush

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Feb.28 (GMM) Former formula one driver and commentator John Watson has defended Lewis Hamilton, a day after the British driver was accused by bitter rival Fernando Alonso of provoking the racism scandal.

Alonso, 23-year-old Hamilton's acrimonious teammate at McLaren last year, pointed out that his Spanish supporters only abused F1's only black driver at a recent Barcelona test after Hamilton said he would use Alonso's behaviour in 2007 as an example of "how not to behave" as a driver.

But Ulsterman Watson, who raced more than 150 times in the 70s and 80s, including for McLaren, refuses to condemn Hamilton even for the provocative comments.

"Whatever comments Lewis has made, he was entitled to make those comments - they were teammates for a year - and if he feels that Alonso didn't fulfil his expectations and behave like a world champion, Lewis can say that," he told the Irish sports broadcaster Setanta.

Watson also doubts Alonso's account that the badly-behaved fans at the Circuit de Catalunya only dressed up for fun while whistling and jeering.

"The information that we were getting was that it was very much a racist thing and not just the fans giving him the bird," he said.

Watson, however, acknowledges that Hamilton's supporters in Britain have been fed a particularly one-sided account of the Alonso stoush, as well as of the rookie's impact on formula one.

"Believe me, around Europe, not every country was so pro-Lewis as we were and, in fact, the Spanish media was very anti what they felt was going on at McLaren.

"All these (British) people thought that he was the magic ingredient that formula one had been looking for but they forgot that Fernando Alonso, a two-time world champion, had a Spanish press that was not quite so impressed by what was coming out of McLaren," Watson added.

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