As the Austrian Grand Prix saw Charles Leclerc win ahead of Max Verstappen on Sunday, a new controversy is growing. F1 has issued a statement denouncing the racist, misogynistic and homophobic behaviour of some members of the public over the weekend. Lewis Hamilton expressed his anger about this on social networks over the ‘scandal’.
This Sunday, Charles Leclerc won in Austria ahead of Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton. It’s not what happened on the track that’s been the subject of conversation, but rather what happened in the stands throughout the weekend. Indeed, many testimonies have appeared on social networks, denouncing racist, misogynistic and homophobic behaviour from a part of the public.
Before the start of the race on Sunday, F1 issued a statement denouncing the behaviour and supporting the victims:
“We have received reports that some fans have been subjected to totally unacceptable comments during the event. We take this very seriously and have raised this issue with the promoter and security, before speaking to those who have reported these incidents. This kind of behaviour is unacceptable and will not be tolerated and all fans must be treated with respect.”
Lewis Hamilton also reacted and spoke out on the subject. The Mercedes driver said he was: “sickened and disappointed to hear that some fans are being subjected to racist, homophobic or abusive behaviour at the circuit this weekend. Attending the Austrian Grand Prix or any other GP should never be a source of anxiety or pain for fans. Something must be done to ensure that the races are held in safe conditions for all. Please, if you see things like this, report it to security or F1. We can’t sit back and let this happen.”
Hamilton was also the subject of numerous jeers from fans of his rival Max Verstappen. Some of them also celebrated the British driver’s crash in Q3 on Friday after he lost control of his car at Turn 7.
“It’s unbelievable that people can do that, knowing how dangerous this sport is,” Hamilton said of the incident. “I’m grateful I wasn’t hospitalised and wasn’t seriously injured. You should never encourage someone to fall, get hurt or have an accident. It shouldn’t have happened at Silverstone, and it shouldn’t have happened here.”
Daniel Ricciardo gave his support to the Mercedes driver. He said:
“Fans need to be more “mature” and not “act like 15-year-olds (…) Of course rivalries are great, and the one between Lewis and Max, especially last year, was awesome, and like in any sport there will always be pros and cons.
“So I think the battles on the track that have to be applauded or whatever are cool. I’ve never been a fan of booing, so I don’t tolerate it. Of course, you’re going to have those you like and those you don’t necessarily like. But I think in an accident, you wish you didn’t see it.”