Christian Horner believes Red Bull Racing and Max Verstappen have been specifically targeted for extreme abuse. Sitting alongside Zac Brown at the US GP team principal’s press conference, Horner stated, “It’s tremendously disappointing,” said Horner. “It’s absolutely shocking that another competitor, without the facts, without the details can be making that kind of accusation.”
Brown had written a letter to the FIA demanding Formula One’s governing body take tough action against any team in breach of the cost cap describing such a transgression as “cheating”.
Horner blames competitors’ accusations
When writing the letter Brown knew full well Red Bull had been found in breach because of a ‘leak’ two weeks earlier in Singapore. The McLaren team bosses letter was subsequently ‘leaked’ to the BBC.
Horner continued, “We’ve been on trial because of public opinion since Singapore [when reports of Red Bull breach emerged]. The rhetoric of cheats, that we’ve had this enormous benefit, and numbers have been put out by the media that are miles out of reality.
“The damage that does to the brand, to our partners, to our drivers, to our workforce… in an age when mental health is prevalent we’re seeing significant issues within our workforce. We’re seeing kids that are being bullied in playgrounds, employees’ children.
“You cannot go around just making that kind of allegation from any fact or substance. We absolutely are appalled at the behaviour of some of our competitors.”
F1 study of online abuse
A study undertaken by The Female Drive and Areto Labs reveals the scale of F1’s problem with trolling as it tracked over 1 million online comments made across recent events.
295,000 comments during the F1 season finale in Abu Dhabi were reviewed and 25,000 found to be toxic together with 2,100 as severely toxic.
Emotions had been running high following Max Verstappen’s refusal to allow his team mate through for extra points at the Sau Paulo GP a week earlier. This was reflected in the comments reviewed.
Comments made about Max Verstappen were 20% abusive and 9% were categorised as high risk.
The review of Red Bull’s comments showed 14% were abusive and 4% deemed to be ‘high risk.
Online abuse has been the bain of F1 and the FIA this season in particular however this study demonstrates their efforts have had little or no effect.
You can read the study below, however, beware certain content is extremely abusive.