Formula One launches campaign to drive out fan abuse

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain preparers for the second free practice session for the Hungarian Formula One Grand Prix at the Hungaroring racetrack in Mogyorod, near Budapest, Hungary, Friday, July 29, 2022. The Hungarian Formula One Grand Prix will be held on Sunday. (Darko Bandic/AP)

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Formula One and its drivers launched a campaign Saturday to stamp out abusive behavior from fans at races and online.

Abusive behavior from spectators overshadowed the Austrian Grand Prix two weeks ago and fans — particularly women — used social media to make F1 aware of rampant harassment, sexism, racism, and homophobia.

Sergio Perez called for lifetime bans and team principal Christian Horner agreed that a zero tolerance policy is needed. World champion Max Verstappen told The Associated Press in an interview this week that increased security can help and that F1 and race promoters should do more to address the problem.

"The Formula 1 community has come together to deliver a strong message to 'Drive Out' any form of abuse, online and at events, and call for greater respect," F1 said. " The video message recognizes that while passion and competition is a very important part of our sport, it can go too far, resulting in fans, journalists, presenters, and drivers receiving abuse both verbally and online ... those that continue to spread abuse and offensive comments are not welcome in our sport."

The short video clip featured F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali, FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem and all 20 drivers speaking in a collective message.

"We are united and ask you to join us in driving this out," Verstappen said.

Seven-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton, who has been vocal in asking F1 to do more, said "we cannot let those who think they can abuse others get away with it."

Williams driver Alex Albon added "we have a duty to call this out" while Esteban Ocon, Kevin Magnussen, Daniel Ricciardo and Carlos Sainz Jr. urged social media platforms to tackle online abuse head on.

The message ended with Domenicali, Ben Sulayem and the drivers saying "Drive it out together" at the same time.

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