MONACO: Seven-time Formula One world champions Lewis Hamilton praised Vinicius Junior on Thursday for the Real Madrid striker’s reaction to the racial abuse he has suffered in Spain.

Hamilton said the Brazilian international’s declarations about racism in Spanish football had been “brave”, describing the abuse as “devastating” and a reminder of his own earlier experiences.

Vinicius, 22, who has faced abuse since he joined Real in 2018, was targeted with racist chants and gestures during Real Madrid’s 1-0 defeat at Valencia last weekend.

Vinicius said La Liga “belongs to racists” and criticised the league for a lack of action after being racially abused several times over the past two seasons.

“It’s devastating to think that in 2023 we’re still seeing these things and hearing these things,“ said Hamilton ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix.

“It really hits home for me. It really brings up emotions, things that I experienced, whether it was in the UK or whether it was when I was racing in Italy or France or Spain.

“It can be so hurtful the things that people say. I think he has been incredibly brave.”

Earlier on Thursday, four men detained on suspicion of hanging an effigy of Vinicius from a bridge in January were banned from Spanish stadiums.

The men, who were detained Tuesday, were released on bail and banned from coming within 1,000 metres of a Liga stadium during matches.

The dark-skinned inflatable dummy was hung by the neck from a bridge near Real Madrid’s training ground several hours before a derby clash with Atletico Madrid on January 26. -AFP