Verstappen, Leclerc and Hamilton condemn ‘shocking, horrible’ abuse of fans

2022 Austrian Grand Prix

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The top three finishers in today’s Austrian Grand Prix joined the criticism of the abuse some fans experienced at the Austrian Grand Prix.

Several fans reported on social media on Saturday they had been the victims of abuse from other spectators, including sexist, racist or homophobic slurs. Formula 1 confirmed it had raised the matter with the Austrian Grand Prix promoters.

Max Verstappen, who was the clear favourite among many fans at the track during the race weekend, said the reports were “of course not good.

“All the things that happen anywhere, these things shouldn’t happen. I read a few things, a few shocking things and that’s clearly not okay.

“I shouldn’t even need to say this, I think this should be a general understanding that these things shouldn’t happen [that] a normal human being should think like that and should behave like that.”

Race winner Charles Leclerc described the reports of what some fans had gone through as “horrible.”

“I’ve seen the statement of Formula 1 just before the race and I just hope that Formula 1 can do something for that,” he added. “I don’t know how it can be tackled, but obviously it’s unacceptable to see that anywhere but obviously, if we can do something, we should and need to do something.”

Some teams invited fans who had suffered abuse to join them in the paddock, including Aston Martin and Mercedes. Lewis Hamilton said he felt “really sad” by what he had heard.

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“I arrived with a really positive mindset this morning and then I heard of the some of the things that have been said and [I’m] just in a bit of shock and just really sad,” he said.

Carlos Sainz Jr, Ferrari, Red Bull Ring, 2022
Gallery: 2022 Austrian Grand Prix in pictures
“People arrive on the weekend to have a great time to celebrate, to enjoy the time off and enjoy a great experience. Particularly if you go to the UK, we’ve got obviously a wide range of fans that go there. Here, of course, you’ve got a lot of the orange army and so when do the parade lap you have to look quite hard to kind of see the neon caps, they stand out a little bit better, but there’s, of course, not as many as the orange here.

“But just to know that someone sitting in a crowd supporting someone else is receiving abuse, it’s crazy to think that we’re experiencing those things still in 2022. So we have to continue to do more.”

Hamilton said F1 needs to do more to educate and tackle ignorance among those who perpetuate abuse.

“We all have to work together with our platforms to spread that positive word with all of our platforms to all those people that are watching,” he said. “People should come here, should feel safe, should feel included, and you should be able to follow whoever it is you want to follow.

“It shouldn’t matter your gender or your sexuality or the colour of your skin, it should just be everyone here to have a great time.”

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2022 Austrian Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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23 comments on “Verstappen, Leclerc and Hamilton condemn ‘shocking, horrible’ abuse of fans”

    1. Verstappen and Leclerc sound like politicians. It’s disheartening that they can’t actually speak up and condemn it. Where is the Dutch bluntness now? I’ve lost so much respect for Verstappen this year after his flimsy remarks over Ukraine, racism (and Piquets comments).

      1. How can you put such pressure on someone to conform to your own vision of them?
        Your disappointment is a result of your own expectations – and has nothing to do with the other person at all.

      2. Come on, did you really expect otherwise from a rich kid racing cars with an incredibly narrow view of the world, geopolitics?
        They’re rich kids racing cars, usually with the intellects of rich kids racing cars.

      3. Jackl Max comes from the south of the Netherlands literial on the border they are much more softer with the comments also there are so many thing he can say what the PR staff give him.

  1. Shocking that these things still happen at all in this day and age, but that these ‘people’ see fit to behave this way in a crowded place is just unbelievable.
    Someone said elsewhere that some Dutch sports fans are known to behave badly, and if that’s the case, F1 needs to work with the Dutch authorities to identify and ban them.

    1. Dutchguy (@justarandomdutchguy)
      10th July 2022, 22:39

      … They try to do the same thing with football so why not

  2. Of course they talk in riddles. What a useless interview…

    1. Dutchguy (@justarandomdutchguy)
      10th July 2022, 22:40

      Can’t say that’s surprising though. their merch stores were probably in the back of their minds the entire time

  3. #TheNetflixEffect

  4. Fans just learned from Michael Masi. Why can’ t they abuse the sport if Michael Masi could?!

  5. First of all social media can’t be blamed as this behaviour has been prevalent in other sports for decades. Secondly, it has nothing to do with nationality as this behaviour is found around the world.
    Third Socioeconomic background is not a factor as F1 fans are in general middle class.

    This can partially be blamed on the ‘us v them’ promotion of tribalism depicting some drivers as being favoured or cheats, or in some more extreme cases racially based. Bathurst 1991 when Jim Richards won Bathurst with co-driver Mark Skaife in a Nissan Skyline they were booed relentlessly because they beat the ‘Australian’ (what a joke) V8s. For years before Japanese vehicles were depicted as inferior and unworthy of winning the ‘great race’. In 91 when a Japanese car did win easily because it was considerably better than the clunky dinosaurs they were racing against, the xenophobic Holden and Ford fans lost their tiny little minds.
    I think this behaviour on the weekend can be in partially laid at the feet of Liberty for using DTS in a way to divide fans by creating false controversy and drama between drivers and teams where there was little or none. Leaving some fans with the belief they need to not just support their favourite driver but defend them against ‘unfair’ attacks from the ‘enemy’, anyone who does not support their team.

    Also the artificial building of excitement by making inconsistent and sometimes ridiculous rulings to keep drivers close on the track and built and maintane excitement until the final race.

    1. I agree with much of what you said, except about social media. Social media has existed for decades, but it’s digitization has spawned plenty of out of control behavior, including the F1 mania that is currently gripping the mainstream.
      If you think that the influence of Drive to Survive really exists independently of social media, then I fear you are not seeing the big picture here.

    2. @johnrkh, the booing in 1991 has nothing to do with Japanese versus Australian. Yes there was a lot of fans that didn’t want to see Godzilla win, but the Nissan crashed out of the race when the heavens opened up, as did a portion of the field. The real race winner actually completed the lap without crashing, but as we know with red flagged races, the results go on the last completed by all competitors, hence the crashed out Nissan was awarded the win. Lack of understanding of the rules was the reason for the booing. No one at the track could understand how a crashed car could be the winner of a race when another car actually crossed the finish line but was not deemed the winner.

    3. You’ve confused things there @johnrkh…. The GT-R did win over an Aussie V8 in 1991 – but without the negative crowd reaction.
      The famous podium was in 1992. And it had nothing to do with where the cars were from or even who was driving them. It was all about the fact that the GT-R had been utterly dominant with it’s technical advantage, and with the circumstances of the final laps of that year’s 1000 (with Richards crashing the GT-R in the rain and Johnson crossing the line first in his (European) Sierra, everyone was pretty annoyed that the GT-R still took first place despite not finishing.

      Don’t worry – Jim Richards has a pretty good chuckle about it all these days.

      1. S, @lakemac I apologise for getting the year wrong, I’ll leave it with this. After the 92 win of Nissan, the rules were changed to limit the series to Australian-made V8s. The reason was that they couldn’t slow the Nissans enough through regulation to allow the fords and Holdens to catch them on track.

        1. The turbo cars were outlawed when they dropped the international Group A regs in favour of the much more local marketing friendly Holden Vs Ford V8 class, while maintaining a 2L class for ’93 and ’94 alongside.
          As usual, it was Holden making the most noise and threatening to quit that played a large part in this.

          They could certainly have slowed the Nissans down further with more weight (they were already about 100kg heavier than every other car thanks to the ballast they were carrying, which was causing tyre problems) or by disabling the 4WD systems (even the Japanese ran them in rear wheel drive only for the sake of competition), or simply by further restricting air intake. But having a slower GT-R still wasn’t guaranteed to solve Holden’s beef with marketing return.

          The rule change to V8’s was decided long before Bathurst 1992 – with DJR doing demo laps that weekend in their development Falcon to show off what the future held. Gibson Motorsport was already well into building the Commodores that replaced the GT-R’s by that time.

  6. Neil (@neilosjames)
    10th July 2022, 23:54

    Really don’t think it’s a great deal to do with Netflix, Liberty, or anything else. Maybe a little bit polarisation and general online toxicity as soon as the names of certain drivers are mentioned, but only a little bit.

    For me it’s the outcome of something becoming so popular in a country that ‘following’ it spreads beyond actual fans and into the general population, and people who aren’t actually ‘fans’ end up going on overseas trips to watch it. Especially when people can attach some degree of national pride to that thing.

    It’s what’s happened with football in so many countries, where people attend overseas away games but the games themselves are secondary to ‘having a good time’ (ie, acting like you’re on a stag do, being loud and obnoxious, and throwing chairs at police horses). It really does seem to mostly be a football thing in Europe, because it’s the only sport that seems to have the necessary popularity.

    Under the assumption that various reports are right and it was (at least mostly) Dutch ‘fans’ involved, F1 – or rather, Verstappen – seems to have hit the necessary level for it to also attract the wrong sort of people…

    1. I guess F1 has hooligans now.

  7. “I read a few things, a few shocking things and that’s clearly not okay.”
    wow, some girls (two protected at Aston Martin’s garage, another one taken to a safe place at Mercedes’ garage) were abused during race day and not even then he is able to step outside the PR script.

    1. Horacio, so how many girls do you think need to be abused at an event before it becomes unacceptable to you?

  8. The orange smoke flares seem to directly correlate with the toxicity of the crowd, and if they can’t even crack down on highly visible forms of toxicity, I don’t have much hope for cracking down on the toxicity of thugs in the stands. Orange smoke = lifetime ban, and you’ll kill two birds with one stone.

    1. Jerry Thompson
      13th July 2022, 19:00

      What about red smoke? Or are they exempt from your rules?

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