Toto Wolff slams ‘total idiots’ for throwing ‘lethal’ flares onto the track

Michelle Foster
Fans with flares in the grandstand. Netherlands September 2022

Fans with flares in the grandstand during Saturday's qualifying. Netherlands September 2022

Toto Wolff has hit out at the “few total idiots” who threw flares onto the circuit during qualifying for the Dutch Grand Prix, their actions bringing out the red flags.

The Dutch Grand Prix and Max Verstappen’s Orange Army are known for their love of orange flares. But this year, they were told not to bring them after drivers complained about a lack of visibility on the opening lap of last year’s race.

“It is prohibited to set off fireworks and other incendiary materials. If you use flares, you will be removed from the premises,” read the billboards as fans arrived at the circuit.

And yet people still brought flares to the circuit and then threw them onto the track during qualifying.

That brought out the red flags, but despite that another person still threw a second flare onto the track in the final seconds of Q3.

They were removed, the FIA reporting the “person responsible for throwing the flare on track has been identified and removed by event security”.

Wolff highlighted the safety issue of flares – not only visibility, but if thrown onto the track they could seriously hurt a driver.

“It’s a shame there are a few total idiots out there who don’t consider what a flare on track can do to a driver,” the Mercedes motorsport boss said, quoted by PA Sport.

“If such a can hits you, it could have lethal consequences. The Halo wouldn’t help you in that.

“We looked at the camera angles and Lewis [Hamilton] was going through the pit lane when it happened.

“I don’t know if someone threw it at him but it happened before he actually was at that point. I hope the organisers get a grip on it with the security.”

Local favourite Max Verstappen condemned the “dangerous” behaviour.

“It’s just very silly to do,” said the Dutch driver. “To hold flares already, it’s nice but there’s a limit to how much.

“But to throw it on the track is just stupid and I think also, the person that did that got removed.

“Just don’t do that. It’s not good for anyone.

“You get thrown out so you can’t see the race and then for us, the session gets stopped because it’s dangerous when there is stuff on the track. You shouldn’t do it.”

George Russell added: “If you run over a flare and it’s sharp, it can give you a puncture. It could cause a lot of damage.

“It would be a shame to seem them banned and stopped for good because it’s become part of the show. But I would like to see people show common sense rather than throwing them onto the track.”