Max Verstappen says he’s not ‘in control’ of his fans, refuses to take responsibility for Austria controversy

Max Verstappen prefers a more gentle approach to kicking abuse out of sport.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen has affirmed that the drivers cannot change the attitude of some of the fans by themselves; there are a great number of people who need to step in and help.

At the Austrian Grand Prix earlier this year, there were a number of reports of fans getting drunk and abusing other spectators, in incidents that included discrimination and sexual harassment.

Formula 1 released a statement condemning some of the behaviour taking place from some of the fans, and vowed to work with promoters and security to ensure that such events do not repeat themselves.

The drivers also showed their opposition to the discomfort that people were being subjected to by other spectators at the event.

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The weekend prior in Silverstone, fans could be heard booing Verstappen, a year after cheers could be heard at some sections of the track when the Dutchman crashed with Sir Lewis Hamilton.

The seven-time world champion reportedly had racist abuse hurled at him in Spielberg, so there is a lot of misbehaviour to get a handle on, and the drivers cannot do that all by themselves.

“I think that also needs to be up to the F1 organisation, because they are the ones hosting and working together with the promoter to allow people in,” Verstappen said in an interview with the Associated Press.

“I’m not in control of what fans are doing. It’s the same with any sport, you’re not in control of what the fans are going to do. 

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“But if you have a lot of security around, [they] might influence what people are doing in the grandstands. This is not only up to the drivers. 

“It’s not only Austria, I think it’s happened all over the place.”

The reigning champion believes infrastructure needs to be put in place for people from a young age to educate them on how to behave, and why some behaviours are wrong.

“You can put a lot of things in place, but at the end of the day it all comes down to education from a younger age: where you grew up, where you went to school,” added Verstappen. 

“That’s where it also already starts, because I don’t think these people got motivated by what we’re doing (in F1) to do these kind of things. 

“This is something which has started from a younger age, and this is what they think is fine.”

Simply banning someone from an event is not enough in Verstappen’s eyes, as he believes education is the best way to phase out the abuse that has been seen at times this year.

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“It’s the same in football where people get stadium bans, that doesn’t mean that someone in five years’ time won’t do it again,” he explained. 

“They might risk a stadium ban [because] some people just don’t think, or just do what they like.”

The Dutchman also affirmed that it is important not to pigeonhole the “orange army” after some of them perpetrated the abuse in Spielberg.

“I think in general they all behave quite well, just a few individuals didn’t,” stated Verstappen.

Verstappen leads the championship by 63 points from Charles Leclerc after he took advantage of the Ferrari driver’s crash to take his seventh win of the season in France last weekend.

This weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix is the last before the summer break.