Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen put aside fierce rivalry and team up

Both Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have been victims of online abuse this season, with it having become a theme of the last two seasons.

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen appear to have momentarily halted their ferocious rivalry, which developed in 2021, as a result of the duo wanting change to happen on “toxic” social media platforms.

It is only in the last couple of years that online abuse amongst the F1 community has stemmed into a massively concerning problem, with hundreds targeted daily purely for stating their opinion or demonstrating their support for a driver or team.

This online abuse has begun to transfer into abuse at the circuits themselves, with Hamilton and Verstappen having been faced with boos and jeers multiple times this season.

Fans aren’t stopping at the drivers, though, with team and FIA personnel having also been targeted, most recently Red Bull strategist Hannah Schmitz and FIA steward Silvia Bellot.

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Sky reporter Ted Kravitz has also been hit by a barrage of online abuse and harassment, with the veteran reporter being blamed for Red Bull’s Sky boycott at Mexico City.

Hamilton has called for everyone to simply “come off” social media, with people appearing to be unbothered by damaging others mental health.

“Social media is getting more and more toxic as the years go on and I think we should all come off it ultimately,” Hamilton said.

“Mental health is such a prominent thing right now. So many people are reading the comments and the stuff people say, and it is hurtful.

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“Fortunately, I don’t read the stuff but the media platforms need to do more to protect people, particularly young kids and women, but at the moment they are not doing that so I think this will just continue.”

Verstappen has spoken in similar fashion, with the Dutchman having explained at the Mexican Grand Prix that some TV companies “are making it worse” rather than helping the situation, following comments made on air.

This is a dig at Sky UK specifically, with Kravitz having called Hamilton an eight-time World Champion and having also said that former race director Michael Masi ‘robbed’ him.

“Social media is a very toxic place and if you are constantly being like that live on TV then you are making it worse instead of trying to make it better,” Verstappen said.

The duo speaking up has resulted in a response from FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulaymen, who has supposedly spoken to the bosses at various social media platforms, in regard to finding ways to tackle the pressing issue.

Ben Sulayem labelled the abuse that has been targeted at Bellot in particular as “utterly deplorable” and “totally unacceptable”, with the president determined to put an end to online abuse in F1.

“It is utterly deplorable that a volunteer such as Silvia or any of our marshals and officials, who volunteer their time to allow us to go racing, is the subject of such hatred,” Ben Sulayem wrote in a column for Motorsport.com.

“Indeed a number of FIA staff have also been targeted with harassment and hate posts over the past few years.

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“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.

“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.”