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Lewis Hamilton condemned the harassment of fans at the Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday, which reportedly included inappropriate touching of female fans, and homophobic and racial slurs.
“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,” Hamilton told media after the race in Spielberg. “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 whoever it is you want to follow. It should not matter about your gender, your sexuality, the color of your skin.”
Reports of fan behavior Sunday included the use of homophobic slurs and the N-word as well as aggressive harassment of female fans. Some spectators said they were scared by the environment these actions created.
One fan in particular contacted Hamilton's team, Mercedes-Benz, and her words were shared on Twitter:
“Five Dutch Max fans lifted up my dress and when I confronted them they said that no Hamilton fan deserves any respect at all,” she said.
Mercedes contacted the woman and had her come to its garage for shelter, The Guardian reported.
F1 issued a statement Sunday morning disapproving of the fans who acted out, who reports mentioned seemed to be gathered where driver Max Verstappen’s fans were sitting. “This kind of behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated and all fans should be treated with respect,” the statement said.
Verstappen echoed that stance: “These things shouldn’t happen. 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.”
According to The Guardian, F1 is looking to put a collective statement together with input from all its drivers to condemn online abuse and at circuits. The statement will also aim to encourage fans to respect and support each other as well as the drivers.