Lewis Hamilton has condemning the harassment. (CHRISTIAN BRUNA/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Lewis Hamilton has condemned the wave of sexist, racist and homophobic harassment Formula One (F1) fans faced during the Austrian Grand Prix.
At the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Styria, around 105,000 people gathered to watch the nail-biting races on Saturday (8 July).
But a raft of reports on social media has emerged of punters making misogynistic remarks, inappropriately touching women, taking photographs of fans without their consent and even lifting up their clothing.
Others claimed to hear homophobic slurs and songs belted by “drunk” fans as well as the N-word from the stands where fans of Dutch driver Max Verstappen had gathered.
Hamilton was not amused. The seven-time auto sporting champion wrote in an Instagram Story to his 29 million followers that such bigoted behaviour does not belong on or off the track.
“Disgusted and disappointed to hear that some fans are facing racist, homophobic and generally abusive behaviour at the circuit,” he said on Saturday.
“Attending the Austrian Grand Prix or any GP should never be a source of anxiety and pain for fans and something must be done to ensure that races are safe spaces for all.
“Please, if you see this happening, report it to circuit security and to F1, we cannot sit back and allow this to continue.”
With calls among fans for F1 to act, the race organiser issued a statement Saturday morning.
F1 said: “We have been made aware of reports that some fans have been subject to completely unacceptable comments by others at the Grand Prix.
— Formula 1 (@F1) July 10, 2022
“We take these matters very seriously, have raised them with the promoter and event security and will be speaking to those who have reported the incidents.
“This kind of behaviour is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”
His intersex-inclusive Progress Pride flag helmet, ribboned by the words “We Stand Together” and “Love is Love”, became a well-known sight on the tracks. The crash helmet was always visible from the car’s onboard camera, a silent but defiant way of urging sports organisations and sportspeople to speak out on LGBTQ+ rights.
“It is important for me to support [the LGBT+] community here as I know there are several situations here that are not perfect and need to be highlighted,” he said of Qatar, where homosexuality is punishable by death in November.
“But I hope that someone reaches out and I would love to know what is happening here and what they’re doing to help that community more, the LGBT+ community. I wear to hear.”