Verstappen blames social media companies as strategist Schmitz receives hate messages

2022 Italian Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen has called on social media companies to do more to stamp out online hate after his strategist Hannah Schmitz was targeted following the Dutch Grand Prix.

The Red Bull driver’s victory at Zandvoort came after he benefitted from the timing of a Virtual Safety Car period which was caused by one of the team’s junior drivers. Yuki Tsunoda came to a stop on-track twice in unusual circumstances as he mistook a broken differential for a loose wheel following a pit stop.

This prompted wild conspiracy theories on social media alleging Red Bull had colluded with AlphaTauri. The latter called the claims “unacceptable, untrue and completely disrespectful” in a statement the day after the race.

Verstappen said he was “happy they put that statement out like we’ve done with many other things as well to address things. That’s how it should be.

“But at the end of day, these things shouldn’t even happen because first of all, to think about these kind of things is already ridiculous, because why would you even think that is possible in this sport? Also that individuals get hated on, it’s beyond me how you can do that.”

Red Bull’s principal strategy engineer Hannah Schmitz was among those targeted by conspiracy theorists online, which Verstappen called: “terrible.”

“But I think Hannah is a very strong person and she knows what she’s doing,” he continued. “We don’t need to speak one on one for that, also I think Hannah’s not here this weekend. But for sure when I see her, maybe we mention it, but on the other hand, we shouldn’t give it too much attention because these people don’t deserve it.”

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Social media companies need to do more to stop people posting hateful messages anonymously, Verstappen believes.

Schmitz was sent hateful messages over Dutch GP
“That’s the problem, when you leave everything open on social media, everyone can say what they want,” he said. “I think there needs to be a lot more addressing on hate.

“It seems like these companies, they put a bit of focus on it, but it’s still not enough because you can create other kind of accounts and you can just keep on going. Even if they block your IP address, you can do it somewhere else. People are smart enough to go around it.

“So definitely they need to come up with a solution for that because of course social media is growing. I think in general it’s a great thing and a great tool to have but some some parts of it are a bit negative.”

The accusations of foul play were “just ridiculous”, Verstappen added. “What other people say on social media, at the end of it, doesn’t really bother us. But it should really not happen in the first place and that’s what you try to address and you try to stress as well.

“Hopefully in a few years’ time these things are not possible anymore to do. And then besides that we were a strong team and we are very happy to be here and we just focus on our job.”

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2022 Italian 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...
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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72 comments on “Verstappen blames social media companies as strategist Schmitz receives hate messages”

  1. ”why would you even think that is possible in this sport?” – Short answer: 2008 Singapore GP.

    1. @jerejj
      The Singapore GP was collusion to crash between three people – Briatore, Symons and Piquet Jr – to absolutely assure that there would be a safety car and so that a lightly fueled Alonso could pit out of sync.

      Yuki Tsunoda’s incident would require collusion between: the entire pitwall of two teams, Red Bull and Alpha Tauri, as well as Yuki Tsunoda and his pit crew. It is also entirely reliant on what the race director does – he stopped in a terrible place for ensuring a VSC, let alone a SC. And then he drove back into the pits.
      Chances of the outcome you want, maybe 40% at best? And for that 40% chance, you have no idea if it will benefit you.
      And for that, two teams will work together during an F1 race to concoct this scheme AND execute it.

      Wow, this website has absolutely gone to the dogs.

      1. You forgot to add that they also needed a genuine technical failure to appear at that time that could later be proven by the FIA. Not just any failure, but one that could be interpreted as a loose wheel after a pit stop.
        If they really did do it deliberately, then they did an exceptional job of it.

        The other thing that comes to mind is: Why bother? Verstappen was winning that race regardless.
        If they were going to do it, they should have done it last season…

        1. So if they cheat they did that perfectly and untraceable so move one all sometimes i don’t understand people on the net it seems they lose 100 IQ point….

          Or it just hapens and RB react the best (which Mercedes also could do)

        2. Coventry Climax
          8th September 2022, 19:50

          I do not always agree with you, S, but this time I give you a big, heartfelt thumbs up!

        3. You don’t need that many people. You need one person ordering to sent the car out despite of a technical issue. You don’t need to cause the technical issue, but you can use it. I really don’t understand people waving the possibility away after all that we’ve seen in the history of sports. Not just in F1, but in all sports people have cheated their way to victories. This too, just like Singapore 2008, is a probability that people should be able to comment on and raise questions about.

          And the RBR need to stop making this about Hannah Schmitz because she has never been the central point to these questions raised. In all honesty, them pretending the critique is directed towards her (while it isn’t), only makes them less trustworthy.

          1. Indeed, and they can have agreed on some code words before the race in case it was needed (execute order 66).

          2. Or maybe 33 as it’s about verstappen!

          3. Itsmeagain (@)
            9th September 2022, 8:27

            It seems you have no shame

        4. You are totally right and so is Max. I have been saying this for years myself. If social media can’t be anonymous anymore the hate would be less. Please lets do something about that and bring love and peace in the world. It is so very necessary.

    2. Yes, true or not the sport was damaged, perhaps permanently, by Crashgate as it showed what was possible, just like the end of last years so-called Championship showed that rules can or cannot be followed with very little real change to stop it from reoccurring in the future.

      1. What changes are you advocating for? They were caugth and severely punished. The punishment ended careers and multi-million dollar sponsorships. What the hell do you mean “very little change to stop it”? There have been many instances of impunity in F1, like that disgusting move of Schumacher on Hill that gave Michael a championship by deliberately crashing. But this? Crashgate was given the most severe punishment in F1 history except for well, the Mclaren the prior year getting an absurd $100m penalty

        1. They were caugth and severely punished. The punishment ended careers and multi-million dollar sponsorships.

          Really? Alonso** is still racing, Symonds is Chief technical officer for F1 as a whole, so really, it’s just Briatore and Piquet Jr.– and Piquet had pretty much driven his F1 career into the wall already.

          Briatore, who received a lifetime ban, has had that ban lifted, but doesn’t like the current era, and isn’t likely to return.

          **I know Alonso was cleared of wrongdoing. But Alonso was curiously silent when lightly fueled called in suddenly for a pit stop. He’s not stupid, he had to know something was going on, but Alonso had tried to blackmail Ron Dennis into sabotaging Hamilton’s car the previous year, so his ethics weren’t the best at that time either.

          1. Alonso was cleared of wrongdoing after an extensive investigation, but you think maybe they missed something based upon some hearsay and anecdotal observations? Ok.

            I do think they could have nulified the results of that race. That’s one thing that I think would have made sense. But that would have made Massa champion right?

        2. @ajpennypacker A change could have been to retroactively delete the result of Singapore 2008, but that would have given the championship to Massa. They didn’t want McLaren to probably leave the sport as a result. But also they could have deleted all the McLaren constructors AND drivers points in 2007 after Spygate was discovered, but FIA
          / Bernie didn’t want Kimi to become champion without a thrill. Money is king.

  2. I’d blame AT, sending out Tsunoda on a broken car without any chance for points. They tried to help their a-team in a pretty clumsy way. Quite expectable between those two teams.

    1. @repliers:


    2. @romtrain Agreed. And what everybody ignores was that Yuki was two laps down, so what was the point for him to go outside exactly ? (Other than to help RB)

    3. Either way, the hate towards Schmitz has to stop and uncalled for; and I’m not even a fan of RB. All of this is getting ridiculous and sad.

  3. The fact the as a society people continue to be less and less social since the introduction of said media surely has nothing to do with it

    1. The fact the as a society people continue to be less and less social since the introduction of said media surely has nothing to do with it

      I feel that most, if not all of it, is being mis-described by the use of a short form of the label “anti-social media”

  4. The Red Bull driver’s victory at Zandvoort came after he benefitted from the timing of a Virtual Safety Car period which was caused by one of the team’s junior drivers.

    Ah yes, Alpha Tauri, the self-professed “independent” team.

    The link between the two events is tenuous at best anyway. Verstappen was extremely likely to win the race regardless, and the extent to which he benefited was rather small. We’ll never know how the race would have played out had the race director not neutralized it, of course, and the subsequent safety car changed everything once more.

    In any case, these people definitely did not get their idea or validation for their own wacky theories from Mercedes’ Toto Wolff who publicly suggested he would have wanted the incident to be seriously investigated had Mercedes been in a title battle with Red Bull.

    1. Even with Toto’s comment (I didn’t see the interview– I know in the past he’s said things as a joke that were taken seriously, and this might have been one), the truth is, nothing would have raised a red flag higher than Hannah Schmitz calling Alpha Tauri. Horner might have called Tost, but Tost would have told him to get stuffed.

      I don’t see how the supposed collusion could have worked, or why it would have been necessary, given Verstappen’s tire and performance advantage at the time. If anything, if Mercedes had reacted fast enough, Hamilton could have come out on softs, and put up a serious challenge to Max.

      Now, if someone would like to talk about Perez’s perfectly timed spin to end three different competitor’s second laps in Q3, and ensure Max was on pole, then that might be a more interesting conversation. Still ultimately fruitless, but more interesting.

      1. @grat I disagree. You ignore rhat Tsunoda and Gasly in Spa both took penalties to help Max out, it simply doen’t add up and during the Dutch GP Tsunoda was two laps down, what’s the point going out when you are two laps down ?

        1. You ignore rhat Tsunoda and Gasly in Spa both took penalties to help Max out

          Apart from being absolute nonsense, it would also have been completely unnecessary.
          They could have just pulled over at let him through at any time.

          What’s the point of going out when 2 laps down? What’s the point of entering the competition at all? What’s the point of building race cars and plastering brand names all over them?
          All questions that shouldn’t need the answer explained to anyone.

        2. What’s the point for Williams and Haas to show up at all then? These cars have sponsornames on their livery for a reason. How do you think your sponsor would react if you could race with his name on the car but elect not to?

  5. I stand by my original assessment.
    Yuki’s car breaking down and him parking it was not a conspiracy. Cars break during races.
    AT telling Yuki to drive it back to pits was not a conspiracy. They believed there wasn’t an issue at that time.
    AT is able to monitor the car’s health as it drove slowly back to pits and while it was stopped in pits as they refastened the safety harness.
    AT sending the damaged car back on track and then telling Yuki to park it was very helpful to RB and not consistent with them having him drive it back the last time it was on track. The car went from supposedly no issue whatsoever to undrivable in a matter of yards with the car never getting up to speed.

    1. If this were true then Red Bull should fire Tost immediately.
      It’s obvious he should’ve waited a few laps to send Yuki out again so Verstappen could confidently fit the Soft tyres (Soft Medium Hard wasn’t a strong strategy).

      It always amazes me that the creativity that conspiracy theorists clearly have seems to negatively impact their common sense views.
      A bit like when you’re shouting the loudest you cannot listen anymore.

      1. Did you watch the race? The only chance Mercedes had was to do one less pit stop under green flag racing than RB. The late SC negated that as it provided a “free” pit stop and bunched the cars back up. Didn’t matter what lap it was during the 3 stop pit window.

        1. What you are failing to take into account is that Red Bull didn’t need a conspiracy to win the race, it was going to happen in any case. By the way, I am a strongly non-partisan fan. What you are seeing as a conspiracy was just clumsiness by Alpha Tauri. This is nothing particularly new.

          1. it was going to happen in any case.

            That’s not true. Max would had to fight for it and could have lost.

        2. Did you watch the race?

          It’s quite obvious I watched the race and understand the implications of pitting earlier or later on certain tyre compounds. Do you?
          Pitting around lap 48 and going for Hard tyres was not a preferred strategy for Verstappen. He got a(n almost) free pitstop but was on slower tyres (even after the pitstop he had a deficit to the Mercedeses).
          Pitting a few laps later onto Soft would have been strongly preferable. But of course you are not going to throw away the gift of a free stop, although they clearly didn’t want to take the risk of Softs with still 24 laps to race (others did without issues, but helped by the later SC).

  6. I want to add that I feel badly for Yuki. He wanted to get out of the car when he initially parked it. He knew it was broken. But he drove back to pits and then back out again. Why? Because he is already in the dog-house with RB racing. Christian urgently wants to bring at least one new driver to AT, not to RB, but to AT.

  7. Again, noise is only made when it’s a woman in question. Lance Stroll has received hate and abuse for almost 6 years now and not a single time has anyone officially defended him… A white, heterosexual male just doesn’t get support. Hamilton of course does get it though.

    1. Your observation may have a measure of validity (I would question the very categorial “only” in “only when it is a woman, though).

      And the conclusion that I prefer to draw is not that it is wrong to make this noise in this case where a woman is targeted. The wrong is all those times where the noise was not made. The message should not be “do not make this noise, just because it is a woman”. This is not a case of one too many, but of many too few.

      I am not a Verstappen fan (my allegiance is, sadly somewhat at the other end of the standings), but here I am all with him.

    2. Maybe because Stroll has never been attacked for being a White male in the sport. Being a rich kid that’s been handed everything in life hardly rallies defenders to the cause.

    3. Let me direct you only to the examples of Masi and Latifi for concern about social media abuse of white straight men in this sport.

    4. As a white male Canadian F1 fan, I gotta say that any flack Stroll gets is mostly deserved, and he can handle it even if it isn’t. It is the undeserved flack that must be addressed here. Us white guys are supported ubiquitously, all the time, without need to even spell it out. Don’t embarrass yourself by imagining that Stroll has it hard.

    5. Lance hasn’t come out as heterosexual. He might be bisexual or asexual for all we know. Stop assuming people’s sexualities.

  8. Jelle van der Meer (@)
    8th September 2022, 17:44

    Why does Racefans keep pushing the “Max benefitted from VSC” message?

    He didn’t benefit as it caused Red Bull to change their plans from Soft-Medium-Soft.

    Hamilton and Russell were still to do 24 laps on the hards they were already on for 18 laps. They took opportunity to make a free stop for fresh mediums.

    Max would have been 6-10 seconds behind Lewis on fresh softs vs Hamilton older hards with 22 laps to go.

    If the VSC wouldn’t have happened Max afternoon would have been much easier than it was.

    1. Exactly, it was actually Hamilton who benefitted from the VSC.

      Mercedes was still gaining on Max after the VSC and would have likely caught up near the end. They would maybe not have had enough speed to get past, but they could have tried to pressure Max into making a mistake, like with the spin on Hungary. Hamilton was much more likely to win in this scenario than with the original sitting duck strategy.

      Max did benefit from Bottas’ DNF as that put him on the original strategy again.

      1. “DM” Your comment is laughable. Max benefitted from Yuki, Vettel holding up Lewis cost him another five seconds. Leeis would have been 12 or 13 seconds behind Max while still had to pit with less then 20 laps, Max’s started to loose time on his hard tyres as well because Max can’t manage his tyres, just fast driving and that’s it.

    2. @jelle-van-der-meer Because Max simply benefitted from it. Lewis gained on Max by half a second per lap, Max can’t manage his tyres and they needed something and then Yuki happened which benefitted Max. You Max fans simply don’t want to see that. Vettel holding up Hamilton cost Lewis five seconds as well, Lewis would have been around 12 or 13 seconds behind Max. Lewis had that win in the bag in Zandvoort.

  9. If a giant kitten had reached over turn 10 on lap 69 and batted Verstappen off the track, George would have won.

    1. The giant kitten was clearly bribed by Horner not to appear. Take off the blindfolds!

    2. Assuming the kitten was big enough to damage verstappen’s car, otherwise he’d have still won!

  10. It’s not hard to understand where the conspiracy theories come from. The actions of AT seemed to be inconsistent with what was later explained. How could the team not know there was a serious problem at the back of the car? After pitting, why didn’t Yuki feel that the problem still existed and stop in the pit lane?
    Additionally after the 2021 Turkish GP Yuki stated that he wanted to hold up Hamilton as long as possible in order to help RB, indicating that Yuki and AT would act in the best interest of RB where possible. So it’s not hard to see how people could think that something was up.

    1. No it’s not hard to understand that people indulge in logical fallacies and convoluted dramatic narratives to confirm their biases, because that’s what people do.

      1. @dmw Thank you for your rational posts here as of late, I for one have enjoyed them. Unfortunately, we seem to be living in a post-rational world. Best wishes and good luck!

    2. @velocityboy Not to mention that bith Tsunoda and Gasly took penalties in Spa to help who ? You guess it, to help Max.. It was definitely a pre planned action from Red Bull and AT.

      1. Oh, absolutely. Leclerc and Bottas also took penalties in Spa to help Verstappen in what you call pre-planned e.g. planned-before-planned action. And even Verstappen took a penalty to help himself pre-planningly.

      2. Seems you have found out the master plan of RB/AT. Please tell us what they’ll be up to in the next couple of races to tarnish the sport and manipulate results?

  11. He’s absolutely right, social media is toxic.
    Hannah is doing an excellent job there, congrats for her!

    1. I completely agree with this.

      Perhaps Sir Lewis Hamilton could ask them to stop this craze.

    2. @rfratelli indeed she is one of the star players in their team. Interestingly Max says she’s not here this week. Maybe this gives a small glimmer of hope to Ferrari!

  12. I think that this Max Verstappen fellow is maturing nicely as a driver and a human being.

    1. Maybe he should report his father in law while he’s having a rant about people. He’s a bloody hypocrite.

    2. @ferrox-glideh Didn’t saw that after his crying and swearing like a little child in Spain, in Hungary qualifying he did it again and blamed his team and that was not the first time this season. You people trying to portray Max as a saint which he’s not, just fake

      1. You people trying to portray Max as a saint which he’s not, just fake

        Hahaha. This coming from an anonymous account named ‘NoName’ really is peak comment section.

      2. @noname have you forgotten Hamilton’s outburst on the radio following Russell’s pitstop on the SC last week? And Alonso’s comments about Hamilton the week before at Spa?
        They all say things in the heat of the moment becasue they’re all keyed up on adrenaline and aggression that they need to be able to drive those cars to the level they do.
        Frankly, the only issue here is that those transmissions are broadcast.

      3. @noname I was referring to his reaction to the situation that this article is written about. I said nothing about sainthood, I said he seems to be improving himself. Your outburst directed toward me seems to suggest that you could do with some personal growth too.

  13. Social media is not alone on this stupid spread of conspiracy theories. There’s a website host called
    In there you can find a bunch of minor racing sites that are nothing more than click baits. One in particular called, has zero credibility, always search for sensationalist headlines and right before the race ended was largely promoting AlphaTauri/Red Bull conspiracies. Sites like those, have zero commitment with facts and it is all about getting clicks. F1 is a precise sport. If there are questions, there’s plenty of data to investigate. But without journalistic responsibility it all becomes a chance for trolls to accuse and hurt reputations of teams, crew or drivers. And I believe that accountable and trustworthy media like, along with Autosport, Motorsport and Sky, have the responsibility to denounce those sites that do nothing but hurt the sport.

  14. Social media again, yet it’s promoted and shoved down our throat by this very site. Up to 10 posts a day we’re encouraged to click click click!

  15. John Ballantyne
    9th September 2022, 1:45

    This young Dutchman is showing a maturity beyond his age.

  16. Have respect for Hannah S. and those messages against her are deplorable.
    If there was any such move, would expect it well above her!!!

    On the matter itself, thought ‘crashgate 2.0’ within 10 secs when TSU stopping the car, terminally.
    Would not put it past Dr Death & his cohorts!!!!

  17. Have you considered that maybe, maybe the hate is also bigger when it’s a women they send it to?

    It is also telling that in a conspiracy where all the action was taken by AT, the hate is sent to the Red Bull strategist. Somehow they managed to contort their object of hate toward a women, I guess they couldn’t find any high profile target at AT.

    Also also, I still can’t understand their logic. It would have been a huge conspiracy, between 2 teams, without precedent, and they risk it in a year where RB is dominating, but didn’t risk it last year where every point mattered.

  18. It is naive to think that a mechanism to somehow clamp down on hate speech online would not then be used to suppress other legitimate points of view which some powerful entity decided was “hate” against them.
    I don’t condone any vile rants but if we would go down the route of censorship then it would inevitably lead to the end of free speach as we know it.
    One obvious solution for the victims is not to read the comments. I’ve never seen one genuinely important communication on social media that couldn’t be delivered through a safer mechanism, and usually is.

    1. Bingo! Just as terrorism has been used to stifle freedom.

      If someone can’t deal with the good and the bad of ‘social’ media then maybe they should take themselves of it.

      Kids used to be taught the ‘sticks and stones’ saying in the past and it worked well
      However nowadays they are taught to be upset and every naughty word or opinion that doesn’t fit their cosy echo chamber.

      Let people say what they want, and maybe toughen up and learn to brush it off.

  19. I’m not convinced that AT & Yuki were acting to mischievously help Redbull. On the other hand, I wouldn’t put anything past Horner & co (most of people forgot that in last season’s finale Perez’s car broke/run out of fuel in the last couple of laps, so a safety car would have appeared anyway, regardless of Latifi’s accident).

  20. haha when you read the comments its not hard to figure out where the hate messages come from. Probably half of them are form the racefans on this site

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