More than 300,000 fans, ecstatic atmosphere – and unfortunately many outliers. Women in particular complain about sexism, homophobia and racism at the Formula 1 weekend in Austria. The racing series reacts with a statement. The drivers position themselves even more clearly.

After the reports of racist, homophobic and sexist insults on the sidelines of the Formula 1 race in Spielberg, Sebastian Vettel demanded clear consequences. “Whoever these people are, they should be ashamed and banned from racing events for life,” said the 35-year-old four-time Formula 1 world champion: “I think there should be zero tolerance.”

It’s okay to have fun and drink too much. “But that doesn’t justify or excuse any wrongdoing,” Vettel said. Practically all Formula 1 drivers shared the assessment. In the discussion about fan behavior, Max Verstappen even suggested an alcohol limit as a possible solution. “Sometimes you do stupid things when you drink alcohol. I don’t mean to make excuses. But it could be regulated. There is a certain amount of alcohol.”

It was time to act, demanded record world champion Lewis Hamilton. The Formula 1 slogan “We drive as one” is all well and good. “But it was just words.” It didn’t help. It is important to stop the hustle and bustle, said the seven-time world champion. “Visiting a Grand Prix should never cause worry or pain. Something needs to be done to ensure racing is safe.”

Reports on the Grand Prix weekend in Spielberg, Austria, had particularly frightened female fans. They had told of real gauntlet runs in the stands, which were mostly occupied by men. Homophobia and racism are also big problems there. These experiences also extended to the huge campsites around the route and would have been part of everyday life in Spielberg in recent years. The racing weekend attracted a total of 303,000 fans to Spielberg.

“If you’re a real Formula 1 fan, no matter what team, no matter what driver, you can’t be racist, homophobic or sexist, because then you don’t fit into Formula 1 and we don’t want you,” he said Wolff. According to media reports, Mercedes had invited a female fan, whose dress had been lifted up, with the note: fans of Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes should not be respected, to the motorhome on the day of the race.

Formula 1 immediately responded with a statement. “We have been made aware that some fans have been subjected to completely unacceptable comments,” it said. The matter will be discussed with the race promoter and the responsible security, “and we will speak to those who have reported the incidents. We take this very seriously. Such behavior will not be tolerated, all fans should be treated with respect.”

Hamilton had – in a different way – also previously had unpleasant experiences with the fans in Spielberg. When he hit the gang pretty hard during qualifying, there was great cheering among the numerous supporters of world champion Verstappen. After the award ceremony, fans from the so-called “Orange Army” simply took down advertising boards along the route.

(This article was first published on Monday, July 11, 2022.)