Austrian GP: Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton warn fans after scandal

Formula 1 officials have implemented stricter security measures, encouraging fans to behave in a more respectful manner.

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have called on Formula 1 fans attending the 2023 Austrian Grand Prix to act responsibly and avoid a repeat of the incidents that marred last year’s event. 

The seven-time champion expressed his disgust and disappointment at the behaviour witnessed in 2022, which included allegations of physical and verbal harassment of female fans, as well as homophobic slurs on social media.

In response to last year’s events, enhanced security measures have been put in place at the Red Bull Ring for this year’s race. 

For the first time, spectators will not be allowed to bring alcohol into the event, and drunk fans will be denied entry. 

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Strict bag searches will be conducted upon entry, and security guards have received additional training to identify signs of drunkenness. 

Similar restrictions on bringing alcohol into the circuit are already in place at other F1 venues, such as the Spanish Grand Prix.

Additional measures will be implemented throughout the season, including increased visible security presence, the use of cameras and helicopters to identify criminal activity, and the display of “respect messaging” on the big screens in multiple languages. 

These messages were also shown at the circuit before last year’s Austrian Grand Prix. 

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Banners and other displays require authorisation from security. 

All these measures are being communicated to fans at the event.

The Spielberg race has gained a reputation for attracting passionate crowds, particularly from the Netherlands, where fans don orange attire to support double world champion Max Verstappen. 

When asked if he had any comments for his supporters, Verstappen urged them to exercise moderation. 

“Don’t get too drunk. Just watch the race, enjoy,” he said. 

He expressed his excitement to see the Dutch fans and acknowledged their presence next to the track.

Hamilton, who advocated for action after last year’s incidents, expressed his hope that such events would not recur. 

He emphasised the importance of addressing the issue and creating an inclusive and safe environment for everyone. 

“I do know that Formula One is taking action to make some changes here this weekend, but I still feel that work needs to be done,” he stated. 

Hamilton acknowledged the possibility of a recurrence by the same group of people and emphasised the need for a firm stance.

READ: 2023 Austrian Grand Prix start time and full schedule

In July of last year, Formula One launched the “Drive It Out” initiative to combat all forms of abuse, both online and at events, and to promote greater respect across the sport. 

The new security measures implemented at the Austrian Grand Prix are a direct response to the incidents witnessed last year. 

While Formula One believes that these incidents were not representative of the majority of fans, the organization recognises the importance of addressing such issues and fostering a welcoming and safe environment within the sport.