Dutch Grand Prix confident of avoiding repeat of ‘embarrassing’ Austria scenes

Jamie Woodhouse
Max Verstappen in front of Dutch fans. Zandvoort September 2021.

Home hero Max Verstappen drives in front of the Dutch crowd. Zandvoort September 2021.

Dutch Grand Prix sporting director Jan Lammers does not expect the abhorrent behaviour of some fans at the Austrian GP to occur at Zandvoort.

While it is absolutely a positive to see Formula 1’s growth in popularity, with fans packing out the grandstands on a consistent basis, with that has sadly come an increase in anti-social behaviour.

At the Austrian Grand Prix, the home race for Red Bull, Formula 1 issued a statement after reports of racist and homophobic abuse, among other incidents, began to emerge.

At the following round in Hungary, Formula 1 then introduced the ‘Drive it Out’ campaign to tackle the growing issue of abuse within the Formula 1 community, that coinciding with footage emerging of some fans burning Lewis Hamilton merchandise.

 

 

Lammers feels a small minority of Dutch fans will have been put straight or may not even want to show their face at Zandvoort, so does not fear any further unsavoury scenes at Max Verstappen’s home race.

“I think this year we will prove Austria was an incident only initiated by some individuals,” Lammers told Motorsport.com. “It was maybe just tens of people that just went a bit over the top – group behaviour and all that.

“So I think those particular fans are already so embarrassed they might even stay at home, or they have been set straight by their friends and family. That was embarrassing. And that’s not how we know the ‘Orange Army’.

“During the Olympic Games and soccer, the Orange fans are usually known for their sense of humour. They don’t take themselves too seriously and make a lot of fun. So I really think the Orange Army will be on their best behaviour.

“I think they will show what they are really made of. What we saw in Austria, that’s not a real race fan.”

Max Verstappen waves to fans at the Austrian GP. Red Bull Ring July 2022.
Max Verstappen waves to fans at the Austrian Grand Prix. Red Bull Ring July 2022.

Another issue has been booing from the stands, primarily aimed towards Verstappen and his 2021 rival Lewis Hamilton.

Verstappen was subjected to boos from the stands on multiple occasions at the British Grand Prix, Hamilton’s home race, while in Austria, Hamilton called it “mindblowing” after fans cheered as he crashed out of qualifying.

Lammers expects Hamilton to be welcomed by the Dutch fans, saying anyone who boos Hamilton or any driver should take a long, hard look at themselves.

“In the past, we’ve had the battle between Lewis and Max and I think we welcome them well here,” said Lammers. “Anybody booing anybody, particularly with Lewis, if somebody is booing a seven-time World Champion, you have to wonder yourself what you are made of.

“It’s a sporting environment and a sporting family environment, and people should act in a sporting and family way. I often tell it that when our kids go to a party, we tell them ‘make sure  everybody enjoys it’. I think that focus should be the same here – that everybody makes sure everybody enjoys it.”