Another fan’s experience of harassment last weekend – and why F1 must act

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Formula 1 drivers and teams united in condemnation of the sexual harassment suffered by some female fans who attended last weekend’s round at the Red Bull Ring, in addition to reports of homophobic insults and racist slurs.

One female fan reported on social media that a group of men lifted her skirt, telling her she didn’t deserve respect because she was a Lewis Hamilton fan. The stories of other women were widely reported during the weekend.

RaceFans spoke to another fan prior to Sunday’s race, who recounted her experience. “The first things started on Saturday evening when we were waving at the drivers going home in their cars,” she told us.

“There were drunk Max [Verstappen] fans screaming and asking weird questions like, “What are you doing?” and just generally being rude and insulting the security, who called the police because they were acting really weird.

“After that, I took the shuttle to Knittelfeld and there was a really drunk guy with us, he only talked gibberish.

“He kept calling me Yuki Tsunoda because I am small and wore AlphaTauri merchandise, which already made me a bit uncomfortable.

“He sat right in front of us and he straight up grabbed me behind my face, at my ear because he wanted me to listen to him. I told him to stop and he only said, ‘What are you scared already?’ and I started crying.

“He also was asking really inappropriate things like what things I’m going to do with my boyfriend tonight. I just told him, ‘Nothing I‘m tired’ and he replied, ‘No you’ve got to give him what you want’.

“I was losing it completely and just burst into tears.”

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Reports from other women describing the harassment and abuse they had experienced, and their concerns for their safety, went viral on social media. Many senior members of F1 were evidently appalled by what had happened. The likes of Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel spoke out especially forcefully, but were by no means the only ones to do so.

But what is most concerning is that this is not a new phenomenon. These kinds of stories, of women being attacked or cat-called in crowds, have emerged at sporting events for years. A ‘pack mentality’ exists among certain groups of predominantly male fans. Hearing these stories, it’s no surprise some women would have felt too afraid to return to the track.

Toto Wolff, Mercedes Team Principal, Baku Street Circuit, 2022
Sexist comments are “just not on anymore” – Wolff
To their credit, Formula 1 was quick to act. The problem was raised with the promoter after details began to emerge on Saturday, and more stewards and security were deployed into the crowds. On Sunday screens around the track displayed messages reminding spectators to be respectful to one another.

Formula 1 has enjoyed a sharp increase in the number of women attending races in recent years. An official survey conducted by the series last year showed female participation has doubled over the past four seasons. Interestingly, the highest female response rates to the survey, of around one in four, were in the Middle East and Africa.

But if female faces are becoming more common in the crowds, why do some continue to treat them with such disrespect?

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff was one of the first to face questions about it from RaceFans and other media after the chequered flag fell in Austria. His message was clear, that such behaviour cannot be dismissed as “banter” anymore.

“I think how it has evolved over time, it was somehow understood that you have to accept a little bit of suffering if somebody was making a sexist comment or something that was [once] just described as banter. But today, that is just not on anymore.

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“People feel truly hurt or discriminated and that is why we all need to be more aware.

“We have grown up with that banter. How many pictures do I still get sent – ‘hehe, haha’ – but I have the perfect professor at home,” he said, referring to Susie Wolff, his wife and CEO of Formula E outfit Venturi.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Red Bull Ring, 2022
“It’s crazy we’re experiencing these things still in 2022” – Hamilton
“Susie sees that and says that was seen as funny 10 years ago because nobody cared, but I can tell you it’s borderline, or for me that is too much.

“For us guys who have had that, it was always seen as banter. We just need to have a little bit of a mind shift because the girls and the ladies don’t want that.”

His driver Hamilton, who actively campaigns for diversity and to stamp out racism, said the news showed the shortcomings of the “We Race as One” initiative, which F1 promoted heavily over the two previous seasons.

“Just to know that someone sitting in a crowd supporting someone else is receiving abuse, it’s crazy to think that we’re experiencing these things still in 2022,” Hamilton said.

“It goes back to some of the messaging that we talked about in terms of the stuff that we also need to do here within the sport, which commits more to diversity and inclusion within our industry.

“Because that then reflects the direction we’re going and it also often does reflect what our fan base looks like. It’s time for action. ‘We Race as One'” was all good and well, but it was just words. It didn’t actually do anything, there was no funding towards anything, there was no programme to actually create change and spark that conversation.

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“So we definitely need to utilise our platforms, as I just mentioned, but we really have to step up and actually really start actioning some of the things we’re saying. Just saying it is not enough. It’s unacceptable. It’s not enough.”

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Red Bull Ring, 2022
“A normal human being shouldn’t behave like that” – Verstappen
World champion Max Verstappen, who has a large fan base at the Red Bull Ring, described the reports as “shocking”.

“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. A normal human being I think should think like that and should behave like that.”

Whilst words are appreciated, actions speak louder and this situation has sparked a response in those who can make a difference if they choose to. Hamilton is an inspiring example of someone who has done just that.

The seven-times world champion, the first black person to race in F1, put his hand in his own pocket and set up a commission to identify the root causes of the lack of diversity in UK motorsport, with a focus on F1 specifically. The results showed that only 1% of motorsport engineering jobs are held by people from black backgrounds and case studies of “outright racism” have been classed as “banter”.

Hamilton’s efforts have helped more people understand the racism, homophobia and sexism that exist. He has made it his mission to do something about it.

Last weekend’s events disproved the assumptions of those who suggest sexual harassment is not a problem, just because they haven’t witnessed it. F1 must send a message that those who refuse to accept that our sport is for all to enjoy – irrespective of gender, sexuality or race – are the only ones who don’t belong in it.

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Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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83 comments on “Another fan’s experience of harassment last weekend – and why F1 must act”

  1. I’m sure this behaviour isn’t new and has maybe been even worse in the past – but it’s good that this is now being taken seriously. I hope the FIA and the tracks can implement a zero tolerance approach to disgusting behaviour like this.

    An experience like this can put someone off attending not just F1 events – but any event, a “moment” like this can have a long lasting impact, it’s absolutely not fair that someone should be harassed or treated so appallingly.

    I don’t know what the solution is, hopefully tracks can have a report system (perhaps via SMS where you can text a number with your seat number and staff will attend to asses what’s happening). Everyone deserves to feel safe and respected, if anyone is behaving like the “gentlemen” we’ve read about then they should be ejected from the track. I think it was Toto who said that people like that aren’t wanted by F1, I’d love to see that made clear by banning them from future FIA events too.

    1. Your solution for dealing with this type of behaviour at the track seems like a very good idea to me.

      It’s sometimes a fine line between what is acceptable and what isn’t. I mean for officials/marshals to decide. However, I think one or two instant expulsions of people might start engaging people’s attention. I mean if people can see that others are instantly removed, they may start moderating their behaviour. A G.P. ticket is a lot of money to spend if you getting drunk and misbehaving results in you being thrown out half way though the weekend.

    2. Of course it’s new (in F1 at least) and it’s pretty clear which fans it’s emanating from.

    3. Basically, these are stories about drunk scumbags who also happen to be Verstappen fans. Drunk sporting fans of every sporting team pull this type of crap because you’re going to get a small % of scumbags in every big crowd.

      The answer at all these events, whether F1 or football, is increased security and limiting alcohol sales. At baseball games, alcohol sales are usually cut off after the 7th inning to limit stuff like this from happening.

  2. Given that last season really encouraged a tribal element akin to football, this is sadly an inevitable consequence. One of the best things about being an F1 fan is that you don’t have to have such a loyally and just enjoy the spectacle as a complete neutral.

    When you look at just how incredible the crowd was at Silverstone this year, especially when compared to the behaviour of England fans at last year’s Euro final, it was something I’d always explain as one of the reasons F1 is sometimes better than football.

    Now we appear to be losing that distinction, which really saddens me.

    1. I fully agree. Last seasons behavior of two team bosses was below any standard. Bringing in Netflix audience (who get presented a soap series) also doesn’t help. Time for Liberty to rethink their strategy although if I am honest (and sadly rather negative) I feel they will let revenue prevail over these kinds of moral questions.

    2. There’s definitely a tribal aspect to F1 fandom which has emerged very recently, and sadly it does often bring with it bad behaviour.

      But it’s no excuse for sexual intimidation/assault.

    3. I have seen a video form Silverstone 21 from the Luffield grandstands and all the British fans where cheering and celebrating when Max was put into the barriers, which was before all the really bad mud throwing started between the top 2 teams last season, so I would say that this tribalism has been creeping into the sport before then. I actually think its more of a side effect of the last 6 years and the way everything in the world has been politicized, and therefore breeding the us vs them mentality. It seems to be in every corner of society, and you are correct, this is a sad and unfortunate by product of it (the harassments) Hopefully F1 can lead the way in turning the corner of this ‘rot’, life bans for the ones that are caught doing it.

      1. AlphaSpookster
        14th July 2022, 14:18

        Unfortunately this is nothing new, I remember back in 1999 when Schumacher crashed at the British GP and broke his leg in two places, a lot of the British fans were cheering then.

        The same thing happened in Germany when Mika Häkkinen crashed.

      2. I attend the British Grand Prix every year. I never heard anyone cheer when Max crashed after collision with Lewis. It was quite almost eerily, because we didn’t know Max s fate. The cheers came after the race, only when we heard Max was okay. Lewis s fans are mature. Unlike Max s fans who want to make everything Personally. People who cheer when a driver crash are Nuts in my Opinion

      3. I actually think its more of a side effect of the last 6 years

        I think the base problem started in 2005, laddish culture and all.

    4. Thing is that there are also reports of female Max fans experiencing trouble from those hoolies in orange. Tribalism is only part of the problem. As a dutchman myself I find this whole dutch attitude at festivals (F1 or other) of seeing it as a giant carnival, getting drunk and then doing whatever they like terribly humiliating.

      1. Yeah, was just reading about the ‘Dutch corner’ at Alpe d’huez (sorry Keith for naming cycling related stuff ;) in my newspaper, basically the same thing. Okay, Not only Dutch there apparently (also similarly minded French, British, German), and sure we see that sort of stuff from Football fans too, but the current large influx of such people wearing orange is embarrassing for all genuine Dutch F1/sports fans.

        1. Yes, this is not an F1 problem. This is a Dutch problem. They need to learn how to behave and learn the world doesn’t moves around them.

        2. @bosyber

          Honestly, the dutch fans have crowded to F1 suddenly because of Max. They finally have a world champion and genuine success in F1, which different from their level of success in other mainstream sports such as Football. It’s obvious that you’re going to have a lot of fans that switch sports and join the one they’re currently tasting success in.

          I wouldn’t be surprised if all the hooligan dutch fans at the Austrian GP are also the same fans who are loyal supporters of their football club that attend matches in the drunk section of the stands. Having lived in Rotterdam myself, and having attended a few Feyenord and Sparta football games, I completely got the jist of thy dutch football fan – obnoxious, drunk, unintelligent, rowdy and shameless. They will look down upon other non-white races, will count on their strength in numbers and think there are no consequences.

          The only person that can have some sort of impact on their ridiculous behaviour is Max. He needs to take a really strong stand against this kind of behaviour, in particular racism and sexual abuse, and condone these kinds of fans. So far, I haven’t seen any impactful statement from Max, and I’m pretty disappointed in his casual attitude towards the behaviour of his fans.

  3. I’m not a woman, so I can’t comment on what kind of behavior female fans have received over the years in Formula One. But regarding the behavior towards other fans in general:

    Over the years I’ve visited F1 races in Spain, Monaco, Canada, Germany, France and Hungary. Depending on the year and which teams Finnish drivers have been representing, I’ve worn Ferrari, Lotus, Williams, Alfa Romeo and Mercedes merchandise.

    I’ve never witnessed any kind of harassment among spectators even though supporters of different teams and drivers have watched the race together. The mood among spectators has always been very good regardless of which drivers and teams they have been supporting.

    It’s clear from the videos and the statements that things were different in the Austrian GP. Several Verstappen/Red Bull fans harassed other spectators, who were supporting other teams. There might have been incidents where the roles were other way around, but at least that is the situation in every video I have seen: Verstappen/Red Bull fans harassing others.

    I’m not sure if the times are changing or if there is something different with this particular GP, but one thing is certain: As a person who wouldn’t wear Dutch/Red Bull merchandise, I’m never going to attend Austrian GP, unless they can in the future show concrete proof that things have changed. Same goes for the Dutch GP, if the situation there is going to be the same this year.

    It’s a shame really. Both the Austrian GP and the Dutch GP are races that would otherwise probably be on my list of next F1 races to attend.

    1. Agreed. The orange smoke and flares showed the organisers dropped the ball security.

    2. 100% agree.

      Like you, I’ve attended numerous Grand Prix, always sat with a completely mixed crowd of fans. I’ve never seen, heard, or even heard rumours of this sort of behaviour.

      1. The challenge with this approach or logic of having never experienced somethings so it is hard to believe, is a dangerous mindset. It automatically casts doubts on the credibility of the victim. I don’t mean to say there can be no pretend victims. However, in a crowd of even a hundred people I can guarantee there are at least 3 evil minded individuals with the rest being good individuals even if not saints.
        We can’t see everything that happens around us, it is impossible, as such we shouldn’t drown out those faint voices crying out.

    3. The orange flares are almost ‘anti-diversity’ by nature, engulfing everyone in the same colour whether they like it or not. They’re a territorial marker, extending over a large area, entire stands – aside from being a potential security issue both on and off track. In football stadiums, they’re intended to indicate an army (mob) looking for a rival army to challenge. Just ban them. They have nothing to do with watching Formula 1 as a mixed and diverse audience who can deal with fans of other drivers or teams without rancour.

      1. Hear, hear! The images of billowing orange smoke have a chilling Leni Riefenstahl quality, and seem symbolic of the rising tide of fascism.

      2. Exactly, trouble makers need to be banned.

        1. Actually I meant banning the flares :)
          Obviously anyone found to have harassed or harmed other fans should receive a life ban.

    4. @hotbottoms

      Well said. F1 is a sport for fans to watch and enjoy. It’s something for pleasure and perhaps take your mind off the things that goes on in ones life. I’m not sure if the word sanctuary is the correct word but in a way going to races, watching them on tele, and reading about the subject should be an opportunity to enjoy something outside the rigors of life.

      Lately this has not been the case, whether it’s at a venue (discussed above) or a F1 news site where topics of racing are commented on. Following F1 has now been a stark reminder of the harshness of our society, the prevalence of hatred, tribalism and negative attitude towards others who they don’t see eye to eye with. It’s unfortunate.
      As you said, in the past you were able to travel to many race venues with many different types of team clothing and was able to do so without fear of getting criticized or receive any negativity. That’s how its suppose to be!

      Why can’t new fans be more civil about other fans, teams and their drivers and not bring anger, polarization and separation of beliefs? What’s the point of even having this sport if all it’s doing is creating such bad energy and hate being mentioned?

      Sadly, more and more comments f1 sites have become much more political sided, vulgar, very angry and degrading directed towards others (fans, drivers, teams, press). Its really unfortunate and gives me huge pause every time I want to spend my time clicking on a F1 news site. I find football news sites much more civil and peaceful than recent F1 sites and thats very discouraging. Something is broken

  4. Aston Martin has reportedly invited the two affected women into its garage. After the comments and the facts that have emerged I find that on the internet anyone can write anything and being a hypocrite. I am approaching the following information with a great distance.

    Facts are evidence. The rest is conjecture. I have been to races many times, I have been to many races in the Netflix era, which is characterised by attracting a very impressionable and sensitive audience. I have never experienced such a bad behaviour. Not even at the RedBull Ring in 2019.

    Of course, someone is about to ask how do you know this didn’t happen? Well, I recommend approaching the world and information with a great deal of detachment, not taking everything for granted, and using reason to analyse.

    This is no longer a war on the track, this is a war driven by F1, the teams and their bosses. And it’s on the internet. Tribes against tribes.

    1. you are saying all is just a big conspiracy? trumpesque way of disrespecting facts

    2. Trust me.. there are a ton of better conspiracies that could have been cooked up if F1 teams and bosses wanted to create a storm. This approach seems like the least likely to accomplish anything.

  5. My girlfriend and I were going to attend the Dutch gp. Both of us were really looking forward to it as Zandvoort is a cracking little track which neither of us have been too, although with a little trepidation as she is a Mercedes fan. I myself am a Ferrari fan. At the beginning of the year I was joking with her about being the only Mercedes/Ferrari fans at Verstappen’s home race and the level of “abuse” we may receive, But wasn’t really concerned having been to a number of races across Europe and the Australian GP over the years and never witnessed anything even remotely intimidating. On the contrary, there was a comeraderie between fans of all teams and drivers just happy to be there.

    We are not going.

    1. That is really sad to read there @asanator.

      I do think the Zandvoort promotor is trying to do their best to prevent this from happening at a large scale (I saw Jan Lammers already talking about stepping up measures after this race). But I cannot blame you – who would want to put a lot of money towards visiting an event when there is a risk of something like this happening.

    2. @asanator

      Dang. If you have resources, book for Japan/Suzuka. You will never regret it. Went there in 2019, and the best I have had among Austria, Italy and Germany. But you cannot access the track after the race due to it being reserved for VIP tickets. You can go on Thursday and Friday (I think). But Thursday is a definite.

      1. @krichelle
        Suzuka is a darkhorse location candidate for my next F1 race weekend visit, & maybe even as soon as next season.
        Time will tell.

  6. I gave Coulthard the bird in 1997 during the drive’s parade lap of the Australian Grand Prix. And he saw me as he looked directly at me in a sparsely occupied grandstand near Turn 13. Sport is tribal; we cheer for our preferred people and try to play mind games with those on the other side. Anyway Coulthard had the last laugh as he won the race. And I see this incident didn’t scar him as he appears to be a normally functioning person while doing his TV duties.

    1. John (@barbsandwich)
      16th July 2022, 17:47

      Yep. We cannot control everything all the time. There will always be that someone who tends to be misogynistic or rude at any mass gathering. I’m sure instances like this has happened to female fans in the past, but it is now global news because of the awareness we have now on such issues thanks in no small part to social media. F1 has been always been a sport with predominantly male audiences and only recently are we seeing the explosion of female fans all over the world. Most of these issues come from drunk individuals and I’m sure the issue can be mitigated to a large extent in the years to come as F1 grows and its audiences are more female.

  7. No one is talking about the fact that a lot – if not all – of these people were drunk. Good luck changing people’s behavior if they’re drinking.

    1. Being drunk is not an excuse for being abusive. If you become a sexual assaulter when drunk. Stop drinking.

      1. Too right, 100% agree.

        You are the person you are – if you act a specific way when intoxicated or high, that’s still YOU. If those thoughts are so close to the surface that they come out with a bit of drink, that person has an issue and they should seek help for it.

        1. @sjaakfoo @mysticarl True, however, the type of people you (we) are speaking of are not just going to ‘stop drinking’ nor ‘seek help’ because they are told to do so. Ie. getting through to people is not so easy and likely has to do with complicated things going on in their lives or upbringings or what have you. People who have issues have to recognize they have issues with which to begin. They have to recognize their problem and want to change. That includes having a compulsion to harass people and/or be racist or homophonic even when alcohol is not involved.

          That said I think a measure F1 could/should take, or the promoters, is to disallow alcohol at the races. While that wouldn’t solve the problem for every fan or every situation, I do think that would lessen the chance of a drunken group taking license and being emboldened due to their numbers and their state, toward harassing people. And if the lack of booze on site stops some fans from attending perhaps that is for the best for those fans that didn’t need alcohol to make their raceday complete.

          1. Severus Sneep
            14th July 2022, 15:54

            With Heineken as the main sponsor; stop drinking on a track?

            F1 is hypocritical

          2. Lol they could always promote and sell their 0.0 version.

        2. I think the answer is obvious. Just ban alcohol at races. It’s not a pub. A race track is a dangerous place and there have been plenty of track invasions by drunk morons.

          Also increased security and hotlines to report.

          1. Completely agree. I don’t understand why would serve alcohol for a 2 hour period of the race. Seriously, does it really add so much to the experience to have a few beers in the stands? Or be that drunk that you don’t know what’s going on in the race. Heck, just watch it from your couch if that’s the scene.

            I think the first thing the FIA should do is ban serving alcohol at races. It really won’t kill people to not have a drink for 2 hours.

          2. I love a few beers (or more) on a summer Sunday, but alcohol and crowds are not the best combination, and the atmosphere of an F1 grand prix has to be fairly intoxicating on it’s own.

      2. @sjaakfoo I’m saying people drinking at a GP is part of the problem. It’s not supposed to be an excuse. You don’t need to drink to have a good time.

  8. @krichelle

    Suzuka is the dream and has been for many many years……one day!!

  9. I wonder to what degree increased reporting relates to increased number of women in the audience vs average number of incidents per woman increasing vs same level of incidence but more reporting due to me to campaign and ease of mobile footage. Whichever one, it is completely unacceptable.

    Does this happen in any other motorsports? Never seen anything comparable in WEC and IMSA. Much less tribalism and perhaps also because they have female drivers.

    1. + 1

      There so much other racing going on, other than F1 and awesome to hear there’s more fans getting into motor racing from ALL walks of life and not just reserved for one type.

  10. Racism or sexual harassment and other types of degenerate attitudes should be condemned at the highest level. They shouldn’t be a thing at all in this day and age.

    However, I have to say I am pretty suspicious of any reports involving the name Hamilton or Wolff/Mercedes and especially after Abu Dhabi. Because they strike me as people who can hold a grudge.

    I don’t think the Piquet interview that happened in November 2021 was a coincidence that it surfaced 3 days before the British GP. Mercedes or simply British media probably chose that timing so that it increased the chance of the crowd having a negative reaction towards Max or Red Bull.

    Despite some female fans even reporting instances of sexual harassment, the Austrian police say there were no official complaints filed. Why did she go to the Mercedes garage instead of the police? Mentioning Hamilton and Mercedes on social media could very well again be just an attempt to defame Red Bull. Anyone can make a fake social media account and spout lies.

    1. The interview was only released in Brazil shortly before the British GP, because the broadcaster that filmed the interview intended for it to be published then.

      I am sure that you will likely invent a new conspiracy theory though – probably it will be the turn of the Brazilian press to be accused of being part of some secret cabal to attack Red Bull and Max instead.

      1. Antoon van Gemert
        15th July 2022, 10:45


        No way, I saw this interview way earlier when I discovered it by coincidence on Youtube. It was the complete interview and if I remember it well it was about 50 minutes long. It had no subtitles, so i didn’t watch it because I couldn’t understand one word. But I immediately recognized the setting when the controversial part came up just a few days before the british grand prix: Nelson Piquet sitting in his car-garage with his dog on his lap. I also recongnized the interviewer. I think this was an interview about the 2021 season, taped in november 2021. So why would you release an interview for the Brazilian market only a few days before the 2022 british grand prix? That doesn’t make sense and that didn’t happen, because as I said I saw the interview earlier. Strangely enough the complete interview has now disappeared from Youtube, at least I can’t find it anymore, only the controversial part of it.

    2. We live in strange times. Cancel culture and collective punishments that doesn’t even attract scrutiny.
      Why extend your hatred for an individual to their fans or others of similar nationality.
      Did she go the the Mercedes garage or was she invited there.
      Another thing to contemplate that superior logic often overlooks, most victims do not know the right steps to take when such happens. Even if they do take the right steps they often meet with much more humilation.
      I have learnt not to assume the actions of others will often follow a logical route when faced with stressful situations.

    3. That is good point.

    4. Antoon van Gemert
      14th July 2022, 14:14

      This is from “De Limburger”, Tuesday 12 july 2022: “Austrian police:’No reports of misconduct F1-fans’ : No reports were received at the Austrian police last weekend about misconduct against women by fans of F1. Also the plenty of police officers in Spielberg themselves have not seen any disturbances. That’s what Christoph Grill of the Landespolizei Steiermark says. He was present at the grand prix himself: “Not one person has come to us. And we where there from Friday until after the finish on Sunday.” The police made a call to report criminal offenses or to call the emergency number: “We take this matter very seriously and call on people who have observed misconduct or have become a victim of it themselves to come forward”.

      Let me be clear: Every form of misconduct should be dealt with hard and swiftly, but where is the evidence? I mean everybody nowadays has a cellphone, so there should be evidence if it was that bad as discribed. Is it known if these women, that where invited by some F1-teams, have reported their claims at the Austrian police already? Does Racefans know, now that we are four days further, if the Austrian police received reports from F1-fans who been victims of misconduct after their call? If so, I hope they get the perpetrators and deal with them accordingly. If not, that would be very strange, not to say very suspicious.

    5. However, I have to say I am pretty suspicious of any reports involving the name Hamilton or Wolff/Mercedes and especially after Abu Dhabi.

      Sounds like you’re inventing excuses for disbelieving just because the reporter decided to put a question to a person or two that have prominently condemned this kind of behaviour (racism, sexism, etc) there’s another story around about a (now sacked) media member.
      Perhaps you missed the story of Lance Stroll being insulted to a level that the co-commentator complained?

  11. I was shocked when I heard about this, and I don’t know if this was mentioned already, but here goes.

    Already at last year’s race at zandvoort, there was an instance (during pre-race show) showing a fan with a Hamilton cap on, zoomed in with the camera to be shown on all screens around the track, only to sarcastically provoke the audience with booing this person, the track commentator saying “kijk eens hoe zielig en helemaal alleen deze persoon is”/”look how pathetic and alone this person is”.

  12. “I took the shuttle to Knittelfeld”

    This really got me. This woman wasn’t molested in some hidden, private place, but in a shuttle full of people. And nobody did anything.

    That is the real problem – people looking away and letting these things happen.

    1. You are not wrong.

  13. I have been to many IndyCar races and NASCAR races in the USA and have never felt unsafe or witnessed any of this kind of stuff. It is a happy time with a happy crowd enjoying eating, drinking, camping, the camaraderie, and the on track action.

    Being an Ohio State Buckeye have been to many College Football games as well in enemy stadiums and I have witnessed this stuff. You expect it when you enter someone else’s turf. Right or wrong, you know you are going to be harassed.

    What seems to have happened in F1 is certain tracks are being marked as home territory for certain drivers or teams and some fans are behaving this way when many attending aren’t prepared for it because this isn’t Ohio State-Michigan or Arsenal-Man U. In Team Max’s territory it just might be. How does team Lewis and team Ferrari respond? These issues could get worse before they get better.

  14. This is a problem for the local authorities. But Austrian police said they haven’t heard about it and seen nothing of the kind. Other “victims” turned out to be fake. It all starts with us. Social media calling drivers and teams all sorts of names etc. There is no respect, even to the current WDC. And not everyone in a RB shirt is Dutch. F.I. At de Dutch GP Assen nothing happens.

    1. I don’t understand why some people are so certain that nothing happened if there isn’t a police report about it. Do people generally report all the bad behavior to the police?

      If someone shouted to me that I deserve no respect, because I support the wrong team, I wouldn’t report it to the police. I might report it to a security guard if I could see someone nearby, but that’s it.

      1. @hotbottoms It doesn’t have to do with the potential victims that everyone should fully sympathize with.

        It has to do with as I said, the hypocritical behavior that Mercedes suddenly started at the end of last year.

        Mercedes after Abu Dhabi “No words” and social media silence. Then videos pop up on social media of Wolff and company drinking and jumping to pools the following days. Then again a few days later him doing a video on white background wearing black and talking like his family is dead about the robbed championship.

        Then you have this season the theatrics of the drivers faking hurt to push safety changes. Then when that doesn’t work, we are fine and ready like nothing happened.

        Then you have Piquet report resurfaced 3 days before British GP “by chance” and Hamilton obviously trying to defame Verstappen slandering about copse.

        That clownery shows their honor and standards are likely zero at the moment and makes it hard to believe anything that they are involved in anymore without a third party confirming it.

        1. It has to do with as I said,

          Sadly, what you keep saying is a distorted view of the facts. Seemingly anything that can be distorted to justify your belief in the narrative from CH &RBR.
          A narrative based on something that you will note even CH has now admitted was a wrongful action by Masi.

          Give it a rest, and let Max win his first title in a dignified manner so that we can all try to forget last year’s cock-up.

      2. @hotbottoms, the police say they had no reports, but they also point out they were not responsible for security on site. The track had its own security men and they will not have applied the same standards as the police. So it may well be that dozens of people reported incidents to them and they’ve disregarded it, or shrugged and advised the victim to “just ignore it”, or given the lame response “I’ll let my supervisor know but there’s nothing I can do”, or even the smirk and “is that all?” attitude. I doubt that contract security staff had any formal procedure for recording complaints. And in cases like these, victims are less likely to report it anyway when they know that it is likely to lead to further humiliation and victim smearing. The people citing the “no police complaints were made so it didn’t happen” argument are part of the problem.

    2. Yeah, sure @pietkoster, good luck trying to keep the culprit there and feeling safe while waiting for maybe an hour for police you would call to find you and take a referral – if they even come. The hassle of filing a report means that it would be an even far worse thing that went on before such a report would ever emerge.

      Sure, if you see security, you might ask them to step in. But they will only file reports too when they get a very serious incident (i.e. people being physically assaulted and/or property damage, or fighting breaking out). Get real.

  15. The drivers aren’t responsible for the actions of the people in the stands. It’s disappointing that the article frames it in such a way as to suggest Verstappen is using “just words” and holding it against him. None of these drivers are actually going into the stands to address this issue; not Vettel, not Tsunoda, not Hamilton, not Alonso, not Stroll, not anyone. And fair enough, that’s not their job. Condemning it, and not in some roundabout way, is about all they can do.

    Everyone who’s ever been to a race knows the organizers are all too happy to serve the same guys beer after beer for the whole duration of the day’s events. They also don’t care to check what people in, what they put up (there was no shortage of defamatory banners in the last two races), or stop them from behaving like fools in the stands. Organizing an event for 300,000+ people is a challenging and difficult affair. If some countries can’t handle that, maybe it’s time to stop racing there for a bit – even it it means missing out on the English, Austrian or whichever Grand Prix.

    1. You keep mentioning the English (by which I assume you mean the British) gp. There hasn’t been any assaults reported as far as I am aware. In fact the fans at the British GP have always been excellent on the many many times that I have been. Both friendly and with a diverse range of teams and drivers supported (including Redbull). Stop trying to conflate it with what happened in Austria.

      1. Both races featured so-called ‘fans’ being maliciously abusive towards drivers and other attendees alike. In England it even led to violence and arrests, and not those of the climate protestors. In Austria people were allegedly, and I have no reason to doubt it given the scenes of thousand of drunks on TV, molesting female attendees. It doesn’t speak well of either event, and plenty of other races show that none of those scenes are normal, and that they don’t belong in F1.

        Whether it can be solved by organizers increasing security presence, breaking up monolithic grandstands with 90%+ fans of one driver/team, banning the sale of intoxicating substances, or whatever else is ultimately up to the organizers and local authorities. What F1 as a sport can do is refuse to race at these venues where ‘fans’ apparently can’t behave themselves towards either F1 or each other. Or they can race without the public, as is unfortunately sometimes necessary in football.

        1. In England it even led to violence and arrests, and not those of the climate protestors.

          Do you have any sources for this claim?

      2. “You keep mentioning the English”

        Asanator, yes, I’d noticed that too. In football, in the 1970s and 80s, when football mob violence and hooliganism was much more pronounced than it is now, the European press labelled it The English Disease, even though it was by no means unique to English clubs, and it is still easy to scapegoat English fans for trouble. At the Champions League final in Paris, the immediate response of authorities was to blame all the trouble on Liverpool fans, and at first the European press was quick to believe this narrative. It is only because there were so many journalists in the crowd and so many people with phones recording what was going on that the truth has come out, and we can see that the English fans were overwhelmingly well behaved. This is why we should be especially careful about labelling the trouble makers from Austria as “Dutch fans”.

  16. Lots of good comments here pointing out the problem or the situation presented by the problem, but no solutions. What are the promoters to do? What is F1 to do? A lot of people are terrible but they still pay and that is all that will matter unfortunately. Let’s not pretend this sport is concerned with principles. It has to get entirely out of hand to the point where it will change perceptions of F1 before they will act… maybe.

    1. You’re right, F1 has demonstrated time and again that they’ll go wherever there is money to be made. They won’t really care about coming back to Austria next year, of course, but this is a good opportunity for them to make these positive statements. They’re probably genuine as well, but they won’t do much more than put out these statements.

      And that’s not necessarily something the teams and drivers should be blamed for. Teams don’t decide the F1 calendar, and they’re under all sorts of sporting and commercial obligations. One can imagine sponsors will be on the phone the minute a team says they won’t participate in all the races.

      Ultimately this is a matter for Liberty and the FIA.

    2. Ryan, I think they could learn from how the problems have been addressed at other sporting events, particularly football which has done much to clean up its act, and at pop festivals etc. It isn’t a single solution, but rather about attitude. For starters, you don’t let people in who have brought smoke grenades etc. Having Ferrari stands and Red Bull stands is probably a bad idea because it promotes tribalism. Most important of all though, you have to be dedicated to creating safe spaces, so that means that if someone sitting in the stand makes lewd comments about the woman walking past, you don’t put the onus on the woman to complain. Instead the stewards go in and drag out this guy from the middle of his mates and eject him from the circuit. It doesn’t take much action for potential troublemakers to get the message that they are not welcome, and for people being harrassed to feel they can safely speak out and complain without being ridiculed and subject to even more abuse.

    3. @ryanoceros in one regard at least, it sounds like putting proper security systems and guards who care about their job might be a start.

      There were quite a few reports that the security guards were making very little attempt to make any real checks on those going in (all they seemed to be interested in was getting people through the gates as quickly as possible), and seemed to be turning a blind eye to a lot of the drunkenness that was going on around the venue.

  17. Okay, great, so everyone has drawn the lines of what’s acceptable and not acceptable. What’s right, and not right. Words have been said. Now what? You honestly think that somehow, magically, event organizers will be able to police what every single person says in a crowd of hundreds of thousands? We’re going to go on the word of people who claim they were ‘attacked’? Anytime someone says that someone said something offensive, we kick them out? Yeah, NO ONE will misuse that power. Or maybe all of this discussion will somehow change the minds of the people who make these statements, and show them the error of their ways. Or could this be more a case of promoters sitting behind closed doors, thinking of how they can make it seem like they’re addressing a problem that the public stupidly thinks there’s a solution to?

  18. Neil (@neilosjames)
    14th July 2022, 22:03

    Tribalism and ‘passion’ for individual drivers is an influence, but it’s mostly just down to attracting the wrong kind of people.

    The fans in Austria have nothing on Ferrari fans at Imola or Monza during Schumacher’s peak years, but a Hakkinen, Alonso, McLaren or Renault fan would have been entirely safe in those days, bar a bit of good-natured ‘banter’. As would a Mercedes or Red Bull fan today. F1 crowds have been just as tribal and divided before without this kind of thing happening.

    Austria had problems for the same reason England football matches do. People going there on a drink-dominated lads holiday that just happened to have a sporting event attached to it.

  19. Maybe skip the Austrian GP next year, and drive a double header in Suzuka or some new track.

  20. I don’t know how it is now, but the last time I went to the Barcelona GP (2016) there was no alcohol for sale. And you couldn’t enter with cans or bottles. I don’t understand how they do it to go drunk.

  21. When the perpetrator was so obviously drunk that he was speaking gibberish, why on earth was be allowed on the shuttle? Stopping him boarding was surely a very basic step that could and should have been taken in this particular case.

    1. Gibberish hurts my feelings.

      1. @peartree Facsimiles of feelings would hurt my feelings, if I had feelings.

  22. I think (hope) that there is a difference in audience between Zandvoort and Austria. This year I managed to get tickets for the Dutch GP. The majority are normal goodwilling fans but I know that there a lot of organised groups that attend the Austria GP while Zandvoort seems to be more individual tickets. The polarisation of the fans doesn’t help the atmosphere and the media (including this site) is only throwing oil on the fire. So yes words do matter.

  23. Who would’ve imagined a character as esteemed as Max Verstappen would attract fans of that calibre? Oh wait….

    Absolutely not surprised a thug and a bully attracts hordes more of a similar ilk.

  24. Some of the reports are probably made up. Side effects of f1 becoming mainstream. we can only take these claims at face value. the promoters have to deal with the crowds.

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