Stefano Domenicali warns of zero tolerance following Max Verstappen fans abusing Lewis Hamilton supporters

Abuse online and at races has been on the rise this season.

Formula 1 CEO, Stefano Domenicali, has affirmed that there is “no room” for people who behave inappropriately at races, and urges fans to report anything untoward.

Since the tense title fight between Max Verstappen and Sir Lewis Hamilton last season, there has been a lot of vitriol on social media towards both drivers from their respective fanbases.

This has included personal attacks on other fans, as well as online hate aimed at the drivers, journalists and team members.

At the British Grand Prix, Verstappen was faced with boos from sections of the grandstands, a year after there had been cheers following his crash on the opening lap of the race, while Hamilton received similar treatment at the Dutch Grand Prix in 2021.

The behaviour has worsened this season, and it has reached cultist levels of misconduct.

READ: Marko fires jibe at Mercedes but warns they could give Hamilton a championship-winning car in 2022

At the Austrian Grand Prix, several drunk fans engaged in discriminatory comments as well as sexual harassment, while there were reportedly racist comments thrown at Hamilton.

Former race director Michael Masi revealed that he had received death threats from fans for his part in the controversial Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last season, as abuse both online and at the track shows signs of spiralling out of control.

In response, Formula 1 introduced an initiative at the Hungarian Grand Prix called ‘Drive It Out,’ and it encourages fans to report any abuse they receive or witness at events.

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Those perpetrating such abuse may be banned for life from attending races, and the new campaign coincided with some fans burning Hamilton merchandise in Budapest.

In a statement, Formula 1 said it “recognises that while passion and competition is a very important part of our sport, it can go too far, resulting in fans, journalists, presenters, and drivers receiving abuse both verbally and online.

“We are all sending a clear message that this isn’t acceptable and must end – and those that continue to spread abuse and offensive comments are not welcome in our sport.”

Speaking ahead of the race in Hungary, where members of the LGBTQ+ community are persecuted against, Domenicali warned that there is no room for abuse of any kind, and suggested the sport will come down hard on those guilty of it.

“There’s no discussion about this, no compromise,” he told Sky Sports.

“I think that it is a message that it was great to see that everyone embraced it immediately.

“I have to say the beauty of our sport is that we can control it, as you can see back again on the grandstand, lots of kids, and lots of family, and it’s good to see different camps all mixed up.

“So that’s the real Formula 1 we want to see.”

The Italian encouraged anyone hearing, seeing or receiving abuse to speak out, as the initiative is in place to stamp out all forms of harassment.

“Structurally, there’s no fear to give any kind of information because we have put places where you can say something, you can highlight if there is a problem,” added Domenicali.

“Of course, if someone is behaving in a [bad] way, [the response is] going to be very, very, very, very strong.”

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The former Ferrari team principal also urged fans to be respectful of each other while still showing support to their favourite drivers and teams.

“There’s no space for idiots in the world,” he affirmed.

“Unfortunately, we don’t want to give any kind of room [to them] because [in this sport] one can show that there is a competition. 

“In competition, you can do good, you can do bad, but you need to be respectful every time.”

While there has been plenty of bad behaviour, there was also some friendly banter between Red Bull and Mercedes fans after the race in Budapest, when a group of Red Bull supporters asked a waiter to deliver a can of Red Bull to a table where Mercedes fans were seated.

This is the kind of friendly relationship F1 is encouraging all fans to have, and if they cannot be respectful, there is no place for them being in and around F1.