Stefano Domenicali on F1’s anti-abuse campaign: There’s no room for idiots

Thomas Maher
Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali at the French Grand Prix. Paul Ricard, July 2022.

Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali at the French Grand Prix. Paul Ricard, July 2022.

Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali is hoping the ‘Drive It Out’ campaign will result in abuse being called out to a greater extent.

F1 rolled out a new anti-abuse initiative recently, which is aimed at tackling the growing pervasive problem of abuse within the F1 community.

Called ‘Drive It Out’, the campaign is aimed at abuse both online and at the track, following incidents at the Austrian Grand Prix in which attending fans were subjected to racial, personal and homophobic abuse.

‘Drive It Out’ was launched at the Hungarian Grand Prix, which coincided with footage emerging online in which attendees could be seen setting fire to Lewis Hamilton merchandise.

A statement released by F1, said that the campaign “recognises that while passion and competition is a very important part of our sport, it can go too far, resulting in fans, journalists, presenters, and drivers receiving abuse both verbally and online.

“We are all sending a clear message that this isn’t acceptable and must end – and those that continue to spread abuse and offensive comments are not welcome in our sport.”

Domenicali: There’s no room for these idiots

Speaking on the grid at the Hungarian Grand Prix, Domenicali reiterated the idea that abuse needs to be called out whenever it is encountered – whether it be online, or at a race track.

“There’s no discussion about this, no compromise,” he told Sky F1.

“I think that it is a message that it was great to see that everyone embraced it immediately.

“I have to say the beauty of our sport is that we can control it. As you can see back again on the grandstand, lots of kids, and lots of family, and it’s good to see different camps all mixed up.

“So that’s the real Formula 1 we want to see.”

Domenicali urged fans at races to report the issues to security if they are unhappy with the behaviour they encounter in the grandstands.

“Structurally, there’s no fear to give any kind of information because we have put places where you can say something, you can highlight if there is a problem,” he said.

“Of course, if someone is behaving in a [bad] way, [the response is] gonna be very, very, very, very strong.”

With former FIA Race Director Michael Masi returning to Australia and revealing he received death threats after the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Domenicali was succinct in summing up the situation.

“There’s no space for idiots in the world,” he said.

“Unfortunately, we don’t want to give any kind of room [to them] because [in this sport] one can show that there is a competition. In competition, you can do good, you can do bad, but you need to be respectful every time.”

What abuse are F1 folk encountering?

A quick look at social media on almost any day is startling in its rampant toxicity, with battle lines firmly drawn between driver fan camps and seemingly no common ground or grey areas.

One of the most triggering events, the aforementioned Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, continues to generate arguments, vitriol, and insults.

A prime example from this week is what Helen Crossley, formerly of McLaren and now with Alpine as their Head of Digital Media, encountered when she posted a message sympathising with Masi’s plight.

“My mind is absolutely blown reading even more hate and threats directed at Michael Masi,” she wrote on Twitter.

“I don’t agree with the outcome of that race but in what actual world is this okay? He’s a human. And this is a SPORT. 🤯”

Crossley later posted to reveal some of the hateful messages she received in the aftermath of that post.

“Both you and Masi need to sleep with one eye open,” said one commenter, while another sent her messages calling her a “white b***h” and a “dumb*** c**t”.