FIA steward received death threats after controversial Fernando Alonso decision

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has spoken out against online abuse following an incident involving a steward.

The United States Grand Prix in Austin was filled with talking points, one of which was a controversial decision made by the stewards with regards to Fernando Alonso.

The Spaniard was involved in a crash with Aston Martin driver Lance Stroll, which saw his car pick up heavy damage, however somehow he managed to pull off a minor miracle and finish sevenths despite the damage.

The Alpine driver was then handed a 30-second penalty after the race after Haas argued that the 41-year-old’s car was unsafe to driver, despite the fact that race control never showed Alonso the black and orange flag which would have forced him to pit for repairs.

If that was not controversial enough, Alpine then appealed the decision, claiming that Haas’ protest came too late after the race, which the FIA then agreed with and rescinded the penalty, reinstating his points finish.

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The steward’s team was made up of four individuals that day, and Silvia Bellot was unfortunately the target of abuse on social media, receiving death threats and toxic abuse from online trolls.

The FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has now released a statement about the incident, condemning the actions of those who targeted Bellot.

“It is totally unacceptable that our volunteers, officials and employees are subjected to this extreme abuse. It has no place in our sport. It has a devastating effect on our mental health and that of our loved ones,” he wrote.

“I will always stand up for my staff and volunteers. And let me be clear – without these people there would be no racing. We have to ask ourselves, who would want to pursue becoming a top official in this environment? The reality is obvious – if this continues it will destroy our sport.”

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The 60-year-old has revealed that in the wake of the abuse, which has become all too common this year, the FIA will be launching a campaign to try and eradicate such toxicity from the sport.

“In the coming months we will be launching a concerted campaign by leveraging the power and reach of our entire federation which numbers 244 motoring and sporting organisations in 146 countries on 5 continents.

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“This campaign will build on the collaborative work by the FIA and Formula 1 through the Drive It Out initiative.

“Everyone in our sport, from the media, teams, drivers and fans has a role to play. We cannot ignore this. I urge the entire motorsport ecosystem to take a stand.”

Lewis Hamilton has told the media that he no longer reads his social media due to how toxic the platforms have become, also urging companies to step up their attempts to tackle the online trolls.