Lewis Hamilton believes senior figures at Red Bull had “incited” the booing he received after capturing pole position for the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Many of the fans in the grandstands at the Hungaroring were clad in orange and cheering on Hamilton’s title rival Max Verstappen, who qualified third for round 11 of the World Championship behind Valtteri Bottas in the second Mercedes.
Upon jumping out of his car in the P1 parking spot, the 36-year-old Briton was subjected to boos as well as cheers from the stands. That was repeated in his post-session interview with Johnny Herbert, who called for the jeering to stop.
Hamilton said in a subsequent interview with Formula 1 that he thought the booing had stemmed from the criticism of him by Red Bull team principal Christian Horner and driver development chief Helmut Marko after the British Grand Prix.
Horner had termed the seven-time World Champion’s attempt to overtake Verstappen, which led to the Dutchman crashing out at Silverstone’s Copse corner, as “unacceptable” and “dangerous”, while Marko added the words “reckless” and “negligent” in his assessment.
Clearly, Hamilton felt they had stoked the flames, prompting the reaction to him in Budapest.
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Reminded he had told Herbert he uses the booing as “fuel”, Hamilton said to Formula 1: “It’s not a surprise to me given the things that have been said from the heads of that team that have incited that, right?
“I think over this [summer] break people really need to look within in the things that have been said because it is unacceptable the things that have [been] said and on top of that the things that have escalated.
“We’ve got to continue to stay positive. I’m really proud of my team for staying so focused during this time because it’s been a whirlwind of emotions and things coming at us in all different directions, but we’ve kept our heads down and come here and delivered.”
There has also been plenty of verbal jousting between Horner and his Mercedes rival Toto Wolff this season and having previously jokingly suggested they should sort out their issues in a boxing ring, Hamilton urged the sport’s senior figures to start showing a better example.
“I’m a sporting fan. I’ve never booed any other team in any other sport because it’s just not in my character,” he added.
“We do have to be so careful with our words because there are young kids watching and we are supposed to be shining a light, encouraging people and spreading positivity.
“Leaders of this industry need to be leaders. They have people following them and kids following them. As a sport we’ve got a responsibility, so there should be some strong talks probably over the next weeks.
“Either way, it’s not getting in my way.”