After multiple reports of abusive behaviour by fans at the Red Bull Ring, Sebastian Vettel has called for a “zero tolerance” approach that would see offenders banned from watching races for life.
Drivers and team bosses have already spoken out against the cheering of Lewis Hamilton’s crash in qualifying on Friday, as well as Max Verstappen’s retirement at Silverstone being met with glee by some British fans, after he was booed after qualifying at the last round – with the two having had several intense battles in a season-long title fight last year.
Both Verstappen and Hamilton have called to an end to the other being booed, but the Austrian Grand Prix weekend saw reports of unacceptable behaviour being taken a step further.
A small minority of fans were accused of sexual harassment in the grandstands, racial slurs and homophobic abuse – with multiple teams and Formula 1 itself issuing statements standing firmly against such behaviour at a grand prix weekend.
“We have been made aware of reports that some fans have been subject to completely unacceptable comments by others at the event,” Formula 1’s statement read.
“We have raised this with the promoter and security and will be speaking to those who have reported these incidents and are taking this very seriously.
“This kind of behaviour is unacceptable and will not be tolerated and all fans should be treated with respect.”
— Oracle Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) July 10, 2022
The incidents took place at the home race of Red Bull, and they too issued a strong statement against the behaviour of those responsible once the chequered flag had waved.
“We are shocked to hear that there have been some incidents of abusive behaviour in the grandstands and the fan parks,” the team posted on social media.
“This is completely unacceptable and we hope that security and the authorities deal with this swiftly as there is no place for it in racing or society as a whole.
“We value inclusion and want a safe space for fans to enjoy our sport.”
But Vettel hopes to see action taken against such behaviour taking place in Formula 1, and while he accepts that people come to races for a good time and some may end up drinking, no amount of alcohol excuses the reported abusive behaviour that took place in Spielberg.
“Horrible, isn’t it? I think it is good that this stuff comes out, that’s the start, but it is horrible,” Vettel said after the race, quoted by Autosport.
“Whoever these people are, they should be ashamed of themselves and they should be banned from racing events for their lives.
“I think there should be zero tolerance. If people have a good time and drink too much that’s OK, but it doesn’t justify or excuse wrong behaviour. We race as one, so, the fans are a part of that.”
Highlights from the Austrian Grand Prix
Charles Leclerc took his first win in eight races, and Ferrari definitely needed it.