Max Verstappen has called for regulation of alcohol consumption in Formula One after allegations of abuse cast a shadow over the Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday.
A number of reports have surfaced on social media, including sexual harassment, homophobia and racial abuse, from people who attended the race at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg.
About 60,000 spectators traveled from the Netherlands to support world champion Verstappen. One of the reported incidents involved a woman who said five of her Dutch supporters pulled up her clothes and said, “No [Lewis] A Hamilton fan deserves respect.”
A large squad of Verstappen’s Orange Army is expected to take part in the Hungarian Grand Prix in Budapest later this month, while organizers of the Dutch Grand Prix in Zandvoort on September 4 are anticipating a crowd of over 100,000.
“The only thing that can be improved is the security around the venues to keep people more in check,” said world champion Verstappen, who leads Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc with a 38-point lead.
“And of course that’s no excuse, but they watch the race, they come back, they party, they have fun, they drink alcohol.
These things can be regulated. There’s a certain amount of alcohol a person has to take until it’s time to go to bed and wake up the next morning because if you start going crazy, you can do stupid things.”
Formula 1 chiefs have launched an investigation into the reports of abuse, calling them “completely unacceptable”.
And seven-time world champion Hamilton, who said it was “astonishing” that fans cheered his qualifying crash at Red Bull Ring on Friday, insisted F1 must do more to tackle the problem.
The Briton, 37, said: “It comes down to some of the messages we’ve had in terms of what we have to do here in the sport, which is to be more committed to diversity and inclusion in our industry.
“It reflects the direction we are going and what our fan base looks like.
“It’s time to work. [F1’s] The “We Race as One” campaign was all well and good, but it was just words. Didn’t actually do anything.
There was no funding for anything. There was no program to bring about change and spark that conversation.
“We really have to step up and really start doing some of the things we say. Just saying it isn’t enough.”