Sir Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel have called for urgent action following the vile behaviour of some fans at the Austrian Grand Prix, with the Aston Martin driver demanding lifetime bans for the culprits.
Despite the enthralling Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring, where Charles Leclerc claimed victory for the first-time since Australia, the main headlines from the weekend were surrounding incidents off the circuit.
During the weekend in Styria, social media filled-up with posts and videos of disgusting behaviour and language from some of the attending fans.
Claims of catcalling, racial and homophobic slurs, as well as other abusive language, have all been reported by targeted fans, with F1 having been notified of the inexcusable behaviour.
Some fans who revealed the ordeal they experienced at the Grand Prix, shared on social media the sort of things that were being said and done.
Some women explained on Twitter the shocking sexual harassment they were met with, from men of all ages.
The sport made the following official statement over the behaviour:
“This kind of behaviour is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
“We take these matters very seriously, have raised them with the promoter and event security, and will be speaking to those who reported the incidents.”
As well as some fans, Hamilton himself was a victim of the thousands of those in attendance being unable to behave, after being met with thunderous cheers when crashing during qualifying.
The seven-time World Champion took aim at both the fans in question, but also at the sport itself.
Hamilton believes drivers and teams need to “utilise” their platforms; however, he also teared into F1 bosses for their inaction.
“We definitely need to utilise our platforms, but we really have to step up and actually really start actioning some of the things we are saying,” Hamilton said in the post-race press conference on Sunday.
“We Race As One was all good and well, but it was just words. It didn’t actually do anything.”
The ‘We Race As One’ initiative was introduced by F1 in 2020, following the horrific death of George Floyd.
At the time, F1 announced that the scheme was “aimed at tackling the biggest issues facing our sport and global communities’ by focusing on ‘three key pillars: Sustainability, Diversity and inclusion, and Community.”
This saw a pre-race ceremony before every race, where drivers had the choice to kneel for a minute whilst wearing a ‘We Race As One’ t-shirt.
This ceremony; however, hasn’t taken place this season, with F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali declaring that the “gesture” needed to be replaced by “action”.
No “action” has been seen yet, with Hamilton explaining how the sport hasn’t yet done anything that it promised, behaviour which he calls “unacceptable”.
“There was no funding towards anything, no programme to actually create change and spark that conversation,” Hamilton shockingly revealed.
“Just saying ‘it’s unacceptable’ is not enough.
“It goes back to some of the messaging we talked about in terms of the stuff we also need to do here within the sport, which is commit more to diversity and inclusion within our industry, because that then reflects the direction we are going in and it also often reflects what our fanbase looks like. It’s time for action,” declared the 37-year-old.
Vettel also spoke out against the fans who ruined the entire experience for others, insisting that it’s “good” the stories come out, so that those responsible can be punished accordingly.
The German was seen meeting some of the fans who had been on the receiving end of abusive language, with the four-time World Champion believing the sport should have a “zero tolerance” mentality on the issue.
“I think it is good that this stuff comes out, that’s the start, but it is horrible,’ the Aston Martin driver said.
“Whoever these people are, they should be ashamed of themselves, and they should be banned from racing events for their lives. I think there should be zero tolerance.
“If people have a good time and drink too much that’s OK, but it doesn’t justify or excuse wrong behaviour. We race as one, so the fans are a part of that.”