F1 drivers say time to action against the increasing booing and bad fan behaviour after the happenings in Silverstone and Red Bull Ring.

Now in the wake of countless reports of racism, sexism and homophobic abuse and harassment from a number of Austrian GP spectators, F1’s Lewis Hamilton, Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen have spoken out on what they think needs to be done by the championship as it seeks to maintain its increasing popularity.

When reports emerged in Austria from trackside via social media, several F1 teams, bosses and drivers took to their platforms, in a swift response to the reports, condemning the actions of those accused of abuse and harassment whilst calling on the circuit itself to focus on improving its security.

Hamilton called on victims and witnesses to come forward before Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel suggested the idea of life-time bans from F1 races for any spectators found guilty of racism, sexism or homophobia at an event. McLaren’s Lando Norris agreed with the sentiment, but disagreed that the correct punishment was a life-time ban, insisting a “fan is a fan”.

Since F1 came under fire in 2020 for its relatively slow response to the outpourings of action against racism, the championship launched its ‘We Race As One’ initiative to ensure the series stayed aligned with those working to fight against unacceptable abuse. However, many believe that the slogan was just that and did little to take action for its cause – none more so than Hamilton.

“I’ve not given huge amount of thought in terms of coming up with solutions for what the sport should do,” Hamilton admitted when asked how the sport could combat the problem or make a difference to fan behaviour collectively. “It goes back to some of the messaging that we talked about in terms of the stuff that we also need to do here within the sport, which is commit more to diversity and inclusion within our industry. Because that then reflects the direction we’re going, and it often does reflect what our fan-base looks like.

“It’s time for action. We Race as One was all good and well, but it was just words. It didn’t actually do anything – there was no funding towards anything, there was no programme to actually create change and spark that conversation. So, definitely need to utilise our platforms, as I just mentioned, but we really have to step up and actually really start actioning some of the things we’re saying. Just saying… it’s not enough. It’s unacceptable. It’s not enough.”

Austrian GP winner Leclerc insists that F1 must take “hard actions” against guilty perpetrators, and that fellow drivers should do more with their followings to try and make a difference on a social level. “Yeah, well, first of all, I believe that as a community, people that are witnessing any type of harassment, should act and actually, yeah, do something,” he said.

“And of course, as F1, if we manage to find these people, we need to take hard actions, they shouldn’t be allowed to be anywhere close to our sport, I believe. And then, as Lewis said, as drivers obviously we have a lot of followings all over the world, we should speak about it. And so people obviously listen to us a little bit more and do these types of things.”

Championship leader Verstappen, whose ‘orange army’ fanbase were well and truly out in force in their thousands at the Red Bull Ring, suggests that there needs to be an increase in supervisors at circuits to ensure those, particularly those intoxicated, do not do “stupid things.”

“Like they said, I think one thing can be improved – maybe with security around places, you know, to keep people more in check, supervisors,” Verstappen surmised. “And also don’t forget, it’s not an excuse, but of course they watch the races and then they go back and party and have fun and drink alcohol.

“Sometimes when you drink alcohol, you can do stupid things. I don’t say this as an excuse but also these things can be regulated: there’s a certain amount of alcohol maybe until it’s time to maybe go to bed and wake up again next morning and be sober because if you start to go really crazy, you can do also stupid things.”

Here’s Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc on flares

Here’s Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc on F1 fan behaviour