Mercedes trio – Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas and Toto Wolff – along with Max Verstappen reflect on the fans reaction after F1 Hungarian GP qualifying.
Shortly after claiming pole for the F1 Hungarian GP, Mercedes ‘ Hamilton was greeted by a cacophony of booing, when he started talking to Johnny Herbert, who tried to shut them off. This is not the first time there has been booing at a Grand Prix weekend.
Think of Austria 2002, USA 2005, Belgium 2014, which are three weekends among more, where booing occurred. However, there was something a little bit different this time around, especially after what happened at Silverstone with the crash.
With host of Dutch fans stationed on the main straight, there was almost a feeling of bitterness towards the World Champion, who were rooting for the current F1 Championship leader. Naturally, Hamilton noticed it, but kinda felt good about it.
“I appreciate the great support I have here. Honestly, I’ve never actually felt so great with the booing; if anything it just fuels me,” said Hamilton. “So I don’t really mind it. It’s alright. I don’t really have anything to say to it. People have a right to… it’s a sport, right, and people act wild when it’s sport. It’s competition and take it to heart. I just… I must be doing something right to be up front. Yeah. It’s pretty good for me otherwise.”
It spurs Hamilton on to up his performance. Booing in any sport can have a sink or swim effect on competitors and for him it helped him achieve pole. Red Bull’s Verstappen, who the fans would be cheering for believes drivers should all just focus on their job in hand. Of course, being helmeted also kind of helps to blot out when on track!
“I was in the garage, I didn’t pay attention to what was happening outside,” started Verstappen. “But what do you want me to say? It’s not correct of course but at the end of the day I think we are drivers. We shouldn’t get disturbed by these kind of things, you know. You should anyway just focus on what you have to do and that’s deliver in the car.
“Luckily we wear helmets actually when you’re driving, of course, when it matters you don’t hear anything. That’s maybe a bit different to other sports, probably we are quite lucky with that but at the end, like I said, of course it’s not nice but it shouldn’t influence any of us. I think we are all very professional and know what we had to do on track anyway.”
Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate, Bottas, was particularly critical of the incident and did not hold back giving particular vent to his feelings – which he admitted is rare for him too. So much so, it could be interesting on Sunday if he were to finish on the podium or even win.
“I don’t normally say about these kinds of things and what I think but I heard a lot of booing at the end of the qualifying and I don’t understand it,” said Bottas. “I would like the people to question themselves, that behaviour. I don’t think it’s fair.
“We are here as athletes to give every single bit we have for the sport we love. Like Lewis did an amazing lap at the end and then you get booing. So I think people… just question yourself. It’s not right, it’s not fair and we don’t want to see these kind of things.”
Similarly, Mercedes F1 chief, Wolff, was particularly vocal in his condemnation, offering his opinion and referring to the reasons behind the behaviour from a fortnight ago. “It has no place in the sport but emotions have been very high in the last two weeks,” he said to written media. “The grandstands are packed with Dutch fans.
“So yeah, nobody likes booing, and people that have done sports competitively will never understand why that is. But you hear that in football stadiums and you hear that on the grandstands. It shows how passionate the fans are. Tribal instinct isn’t necessarily something bad, I very much that that instinct for the team too.
“If it were tribal, if they were passionate, if they were applauding and screaming for the drivers, that would be great. I think the booing has no place in sports. I think it’s a consequence of the events of the last few weeks. The incident was controversial, it was polarising. We see the consequences in terms of the emotional expressions of the grandstands, the emotional outbursts,” summed up Wolff.
The bottom line is quite purely and simply, fans will always be passionate and cheer for their heroes and hold a negative vibe towards their rivals. However, the booing in Hungary was a little bit different and of course is owed in no small part to the events of Silverstone. But as the drivers and Wolff stated, the less it happens, the better it is.
The story was written by Neil Farrell
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