Toto Wolff has surprisingly stuck up for Red Bull driver pairing Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez following footage emerging of the pair being booed and heckled at a fan event.
The Mercedes team boss has been very outspoken in recent weeks about Red Bull’s breach of the 2021 budget cap, calling for the team to be appropriately punished.
The German has argued that a precedent needs to be set, or other teams will take advantage next season, happy to take a smaller punishment as collateral damage for the performance gain.
When attending a fan event before the Grand Prix this weekend in Austin, the Red Bull drivers were met by boos and shouts of ‘cheater’ from sections of the crowd, something which Wolff has condemned.
“This in unacceptable,” he said.
“The booing, whether it’s on the podium or on the fan stage, nobody wants to see that.”
These comments come soon after Red Bull team principal Christian Horner pleaded for those making the accusations to think about who they could affect, with the children of Red Bull employees reportedly being bullied, with their parents being labelled ‘cheats’ in the media.
Booing is nothing new in Formula 1, with each race around the globe having its favourited drivers, depending on location.
Verstappen has recently received a frosty welcome at Silverstone because of his rivalry with British hero Lewis Hamilton, while on the flip side, the Brit has had to face similar treatment in Austria and Zandvoort because of their Verstappen bias.
“It goes both ways,” Wolff continued.
“In Austria it was against Lewis, here it is massively against Max,
“I think we have done a lot against this kind of behaviour.”
The ‘Drive it Out’ scheme has been launched this season to try and keep such hostility out of our sport, with Wolff making the point that regardless of how heated the battle is on the racetrack, there is no place for this behaviour.
“We have to get everyone on the same page,” he said.
“We fight hard on and off the track, but we don’t have that kind of hostility towards each other.”
It is yet to be seen how the Red Bull drivers will react to their unwelcome reception, but lining up in P2 and P9 respectively, the team will be hoping to silence the critics on the track this weekend.