Christian Horner was left puzzled by Max Verstappen being booed by fans at Silverstone on Thursday night, while walking on the track.
The drivers were out on Thursday among a swathe of supporters already in attendance at Silverstone before the weekend’s action got underway, and the Red Bull driver was greeted by some with boos and jeers as he made his way around.
Verstappen received a frosty reception in certain quarters on track on Thursday – and his team principal was questioned about whether or not the booing was something of a hangover to the conclusion of last season’s World Championship in Abu Dhabi.
And the reigning champion found himself in what could have been in something of an awkward position heading into the weekend, after Nelson Piquet was widely condemned for using racist language while speaking about Lewis Hamilton on a podcast last year.
Verstappen has a close connection to the Brazilian, as his partner Kelly is the three-time World Champion’s daughter.
Verstappen was among the drivers to come out in firm support of Hamilton, and later stated his belief that Piquet is not a racist, but his words were “not correct”.
Horner made sure to reaffirm the Dutchman’s stance on Piquet, while acknowledging that his driver was unlikely to be universally popular at the home race of his biggest title rival from last year.
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“Max is absolutely clear that he’s fully supportive he stated it in the press conference yesterday,” Horner said of Verstappen’s response to Piquet’s words to Sky Sports F1.
“He’s fully supportive of Lewis and, not just Lewis, but just to any form of racism or discrimination in the sport.
“And as Red Bull, we’re a young team, we’re a very inclusive team. We have a very young following, a very diverse following, and that’s very, very important to us.
“Lewis is going to have huge support here. You know, next weekend, there’s going to be another home race for us in Austria.
“I’m sure the team is going to have huge support with another 30,000 Dutch fans there. So you know, that’s sport, isn’t it? That’s competition.”
His team boss feels booing is something not often found in a British fanbase, despite the partisan support on show for British drivers.
He added that the World Champion understands that it can be a part of the job as a driver, and he is widely supported at the majority of locations on the calendar.
“It’s never nice to hear boos for any driver and it’s unusual for a British Grand Prix crowd to do that, because they usually appreciate all drivers,” Horner said.
“But it’s something that he accepts. Lewis is their favourite driver here, I’ve got no issue with that. Next weekend, I know that there’s going to be a lot of support. He has massive support wherever we go around the world. So you know, it’s one of those things.”
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