Formula One drivers slam abusive behavior of some fans at Austrian Grand Prix

F1 Grand Prix of Austria
Alessio De Marco/LiveMedia/NurPhoto via Getty Images

SPIELBERG, Austria — Formula One drivers were quick to condemn the behavior of some abusive F1 fans at the Austrian Grand Prix.

F1 said prior to Sunday’s race that it had received reports from fans who had been verbally abused, without giving further details.

Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, who addressed “archaic mindsets” after news broke recently of three-time champion Nelson Piquet using racial slurs, was upset when he heard about what had taken place at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg.

“It just highlights that it’s still an issue all over, it comes down to education and, of course, ignorance,” Hamilton said. “People should come, should feel safe, should feel included and should be able to follow whoever it is you want to follow. (It) shouldn’t matter (about) your gender, your sexuality, the color of your skin. It should just be everyone here to have a good time.”

Earlier Sunday, F1 issued a statement.

“We have been made aware of reports that some fans have been subject to completely unacceptable comments by others at the Austrian Grand Prix,” F1 said in a statement. “We take these matters very seriously, have raised them with the promoter and event security, and will be speaking to those who reported the incidents.”

The Red Bull Ring was sold out with more than 300,000 fans attending over three days.

“These things shouldn’t happen. I read a few things, a few shocking things, so that’s clearly not OK,” said defending world champion Max Verstappen, who drives for the Red Bull team. “I think there should be a general understanding that these shouldn’t happen.”

Verstappen urged better security — and less drinking.

“One thing can be improved with security around places, keep people more in check,” he said. “Sometimes when you drink alcohol you can do stupid things. I don’t say this as an excuse, but these things can be regulated. There’s a certain amount of alcohol maybe.”

Race winner Charles Leclerc of Ferrari said people have a duty to be vigilant toward others.

“I believe that as a community, people who are witnessing any type of harassment should act and do something,” he said. “If we manage to find these people we need to take hard action, they shouldn’t be allowed to be anywhere close to our sport.”

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner also was shocked.

“We are shocked to hear that there have been some incidents of abusive behavior in the grandstands and the fan parks,” he said. “This is completely unacceptable and we hope that security and the authorities deal with this swiftly as there is no place for it in racing or society.”

Ken Roczen signs with HEP Progressive Ecstar Suzuki for 2023

Roczen Progressive Ecstar Suzuki
Align Media

ANAHEIM, California – Ken Roczen will make the move from HRC Honda to H.E.P. Motorsports with the Progressive Ecstar Suzuki team, ending a long and eventful offseason that saw his split from his longstanding team after he committed to running World Supercross (WSX).

“H.E.P. Motorsports is thrilled to announce that the team has signed Ken Roczen as its premier rider for the 2023 season,” the team announced on Instagram. “Former AMA Motocross champion Roczen will be aboard a Suzuki RM-Z450. Roczen, who won his most recent championship on a Suzuki, will be reunited with the brand and bring his exciting style, determination, and grit back to the RM Army.

“Ken Roczen will compete in the upcoming 2023 Supercross and Motocross Championship series which is set to start on January 7 at Anaheim Stadium in Southern California.”

For Roczen, it is a return to the bike of his youth and on which he had some of his greatest professional success.

“This thing has been going on for weeks and weeks and weeks in the making, but there was so much uncertainty,” Roczen told NBC Sports during Monster Energy Supercross Media Sessions. “It was a very unique situation. I just finally signed two nights ago, so it’s really only legit once the ink hits the paper. It’s been in the works for a long time, but there were just a lot of questions and a lot of input from a lot of other teams too.

“Good things take time, and I’m okay with that. I grew up riding Suzuki. Ot’s like a homecoming. It’s a special feeling”

Roczen won the 2016 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship on a Suzuki before making the move to Honda. That year he won nine of 12 Nationals and finished no worse than second as he easily outpaced Eli Tomac by 86 points. He finished third in his next Pro Motocross outing in 2018 after sitting out the outdoor season in 2017.

“I am beyond excited to reconnect with Suzuki for the 3rd time in my career. We’ve had a lot of success in the past and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish together in our future.” Roczen said in the Instagram post.