Formula 1 fans who are racist, sexist or homophobic should “f*** off” and “stay at home” says Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff, who welcomed a victim of sexual harassment at the Austrian Grand Prix into the team’s garage for the race.
On Sunday morning it emerged that F1 had to raise reports of female fans suffering sexual harassment at the Red Bull Ring with the race promoter and security at the event.
Some female fans at the Austrian GP are reported to have been subjected to unsolicited physical advances as well as verbal harassment and having their photographs taken without their consent.
F1 condemned the perpetrators saying: “This kind of behaviour is unacceptable and will not be tolerated”.
After the grand prix, Wolff made clear his disgust for those responsible.
“If you are a real Formula 1 fan, whatever team, whatever driver, you can’t be a racist and you can’t be homophobic, you can’t be sexist because you don’t fit to F1, and we don’t want you,” Wolff said.
“On the other side, we need to be careful that there are a few drunk dumbasses out there that haven’t comprehended how the world goes today, we shouldn’t condemn the 99.9% of fans that come here.
“There is always going to be these idiots around, I hope we provided a good show for the rest.
“You need to report them [the perpetrators] to the security if you can and [they should] read my sentence – ‘we don’t want you, f*** off’.”
Wolff said he had “no explanation” for their behaviour, believing alcohol consumption is “no excuse” but said he hadn’t heard of abuse at previous races this season.
Mercedes invited a fan into its garage during the grand prix after hearing shortly before the race that she’d had her skirt pulled up by other fans who had mocked her for being a Hamilton fan.
“We found out this has happened and that’s just not on,” Wolff explained.
Mercedes’ seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton – the championship’s most prominent voice against hate and discrimination – called it a “shock” and “just really sad”.
“Just to know that someone sitting in a crowd supporting someone else is receiving abuse is, it’s crazy to think that we’re experiencing these things still in 2022,” Hamilton said.
“We have to continue to do more, it just highlights that it’s still an issue all over, and it comes down to education We all have to work together, with our platforms, to spread that positive word with all of our platforms to all those people that are watching.
“People that come here should feel safe, should feel included, and should be able to follow whoever it is you want to follow – and it shouldn’t matter your gender, your sexuality, the colour of your skin. It just should be everyone here to have a great time.”
His team-mate George Russell echoed Hamilton’s thoughts saying, “more needs to be done to stop this kind of behaviour, it’s horrifying to hear”.
Austrian GP winner Charles Leclerc called it “unacceptable” while 2022 points leader Max Verstappen said these things shouldn’t happen anywhere.
“I read a few things, a few shocking things,” Verstappen – who has a large fanbase at the Austrian GP – said.
“And that’s clearly not OK and I shouldn’t even need to say this, I think this should be a general understanding, that these things shouldn’t happen, a normal human being I think should think like that and should behave like that.”
His Red Bull team released a further statement on Sunday night condemning the abuse.
“Whilst we all enjoyed the passionate support of the majority of fans in Spielberg this weekend, we are shocked to hear that there has been incidents of completely unacceptable behaviour in the grandstands and the fan parks,” it said.
“We hope the security and the authorities deal with this swiftly. There is no place for it in racing or society as a whole.
“We value inclusion and want a safe space for fans to enjoy our sport.”