The eleventh Formula 1 race of the season will be held in Austria this weekend. The race has been popular among fans of Max Verstappen for years. This year at least 50 thousand Dutch people traveled to the track in the Alps. The Formula 1 organization issued this statement after numerous reports of sexist, racist and homophobic behavior appeared on social media. The Dutch in particular are said to have been guilty of this.
“It’s like they’ve never seen a woman before,” writes a female twitterer, for example, who was constantly whistled and treated as sexist. An ice cream seller would continual have been harassed by ‘older, drunken men’. And another woman, who is a fan of Verstappen’s rival Lewis Hamilton, describes how her dress was pulled up by five Dutch Verstappen fans. “When I said something about that, they said a Hamilton fan deserves no respect.”
The 23-year-old Nienke from the Netherlands, present at the race, tells about her experiences when asked. The event started for her at the campsite with the comment that she was only there to cook for her father and brother. Because she was wearing a cap by the Thai-British driver Alexander Albon, her father was told by a Max Verstappen fan that ‘I was not raised well and only wore an Albon cap because I ‘like brown men” .
During a party on Saturday night, she was pinched several times in the buttocks, and on her way back to the campsite, a Dutch man unexpectedly put an arm around her. “He came with his face very close to me and I really had to give him a nudge.”
Misbehavior by male motorsport fans is not new, race fans emphasize on social media. Elizabeth Blackstock, editor of automotive news site jalopnikwrites down Twitter that she didn’t even dare to go to the toilet alone at the campsite at the Grand Prix in Austria in 2015. “It’s a shame this hasn’t changed since then.”
A Twitter user bundled a number of reports from the circuit:
Formula 1 writes that the problems have now been discussed with the local organization and security at the Red Bull Ring: “This kind of behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”
Seven-time champion Hamilton states on his Instagram account that he is ‘disgusted’ by the messages. “Visiting a Grand Prix should never lead to feelings of fear or painful experiences,” he writes. He calls on fans to proactively approach the organization or security if they see that something is not right.
Cheering after crash
On Friday, some of the fans at the Red Bull Ring also received negative news when they cheered after Hamilton’s crash in qualifying. ‘I only heard about it afterwards and I absolutely do not approve of it. A driver can end up in hospital after such a crash,” said Hamilton.
Formula 1 has been struggling for some time with the behavior of some fans on circuits. For example, last week Max Verstappen was booed at Silverstone and last season, in the intense title battle between Verstappen and Hamilton, there were several moments when both drivers heard booing.
This may include fans who have only recently become a fan of the sport, including through the popular Netflix series Drive To Survive† In it, personalities are highlighted and contrasted, which has led to a more ‘football-like’ atmosphere on the circuits.
Max Verstappen admitted in a recent interview with the British newspaper The Guardian critical of the jeering supporters, who according to him are ‘not really Formula 1 fans’. “They can’t enjoy what is happening now: many top drivers who can actually compete with each other. It’s a shame they can’t appreciate that.’