Red Bull boss Christian Horner has criticised the behaviour of F1 spectators at recent events following complaints of harassment in the grandstands, as well as drivers being jeered at and crashes being cheered.
Christian Horner is optimistic that F1 will find a solution to the nasty fan behaviour that has recently made headlines and believes it “doesn’t belong” in the sport.
This comes after the Austrian Grand Prix weekend, during which a number of alarming accusations of fan harassment surfaced and drew criticism from the whole paddock.
F1 confirmed the “unacceptable” behaviour in a statement prior to the race, and event organisers and security are also conducting their own investigations. Before the race, F1 released a statement acknowledging the “inappropriate” behaviour, as event organisers and security are also conducting their own investigations.
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen responded by calling some of the comments he read “shocking,” as Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff advised rowdy supporters to “remain at home.”
Fans have been heard booing specific drivers at recent events in addition to the insults directed trackside and celebrating crashes. Following Verstappen’s booing at Silverstone, Hamilton’s qualifying collision at the Red Bull Ring was cheered by onlookers.
“I think regarding these isolated incidents that have happened, obviously we do not condone abuse or bullying or racism or prejudice in any way, shape or form,” Horner said when questioned about the current state of affairs by reporters. “I think we stand absolutely united with every member of the F1 community on that.”
“I was pleased to hear on the podium that, certainly from where I stood, there was no booing for Lewis; there was respect for all the drivers, which is how it should be.”
The question of whether the sport has found itself walking a narrow line between “pantomime” and athletic rivalry was then posed to Horner.
“I think in terms of preference for a driver or team, that’s always going to happen,” the Red Bull team boss added. “The one thing that is intolerable is any form of abuse or prejudice or racism or homophobia, anything like that doesn’t belong in the sport.”
It follows a competitive struggle between Verstappen and Hamilton for the 2021 championship that frequently resulted in contentious off-track clashes.
“As F1’s popularity has increased, fans’ support has polarised. When you’ve got record crowds attending, and new audiences coming into the sport, we’re breaking records at every single Grand Prix that we go to…”
“With so many new fans coming into the sport, you’re always gonna have heroes and villains from circuit to circuit.”