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Lewis Hamilton condemns reports of sexist and racist harassment of F1 fans

Lewis Hamilton has demanded Formula
One take action over the harassment of
fans at the Austrian Grand Prix. F1 has
condemned the behaviour, which
included sexist catcalling, homophobic
abuse and inappropriate touching of
female fans, as unacceptable but
Hamilton, who said he was shocked and
saddened at what happened, was
unequivocal in his insistence that words
are not enough.
Reacting to the incidents, Hamilton’s
team principal at Mercedes, Toto Wolff,
was also blunt in his condemnation. “We
just need to target these guys and pick
them out,” he said. “This is what
Formula One has said and we have said
and that you need to report to the
security if you can. And whoever reads
my sentence: stay away, we don’t want
you if you are part of that group. Fuck
off.”

An increasing
number of
reports were
made on Sunday
morning, citing
aggressive
misogyny
towards female
fans, with some spectators saying they
felt scared by the atmosphere. Others
referred to homophobic slurs and the use
of the N-word. Many of the reports
referenced the stands where Max
Verstappen fans were gathered en masse.
Mercedes and Hamilton were particularly
distressed at the experience of one fan
who contacted them. Her words were
published on Twitter. She described:
“five Dutch Max fans lifted up my dress
and when I confronted them they said
that no Hamilton fan deserves any
respect at all”. Mercedes contacted the
woman in question and brought her to
their garage to ensure her safety for the
race.

On Instagram Hamilton had already
expressed disgust at what was happening
and went further after the race, which
was won by Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc . “I
arrived with a really positive mindset
this morning and then I heard of some of
the things that had been said. It was a
shock and I was really sad,” he said.
“Someone sitting in a crowd supporting
someone and receiving abuse. It’s crazy
to think we are still experiencing those
things in 2022, we have to do more. It
highlights it’s an issue all over and it
comes down to education and ignorance.
People should come here and feel
included and follow who ever it is you
want to follow. It should not matter
about your gender, your sexuality, the
colour of your skin.”

F1 issued a statement Sunday morning
stating: “This kind of behaviour is
unacceptable and will not be tolerated
and all fans should be treated with
respect.”Hamilton has been instrumental in
pushing for F1 to take action over
diversity and inclusion, which resulted in
the sport’s We Race As One initiative.
However, the seven-time champion was
highly critical of officials in making
statements but failing to back them up
with change. “It’s time for action,” he
said.
“We race as one was all well and good
but it was just words, it didn’t do
anything. There was no funding toward
anything, there was no programme to
actually create change and spark that
conversation. We need to utilise our
platforms. We have to step up and action
some of the things we are saying. Saying
it is ‘unacceptable’ is not enough.”
Verstappen also
condemned the
behaviour on
Sunday. “These
things shouldn’t
happen,” said the
world champion.
“I read a few
shocking things that are clearly not OK. I
should not even need to say this, it
should be a general understanding that
these things shouldn’t happen.”
Verstappen cited alcohol as potentially
playing a role in the abuse, with clear
evidence of excessive drinking taking
pace at the circuit across the weekend.
F1 is understood to be pursuing a
collective statement from all its drivers
in which they condemn abuse online and
at circuits and to call on fans to show
respect to fellow supporters and drivers
alike.

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