French people

New generation of F1 fans speak out against abuse, says Vettel

Formula One F1 – French Grand Prix – Circuit Paul Ricard, Le Castellet, France – July 21, 2022 Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel during the press conference REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

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July 21 (Reuters) – Abusive attitudes have likely existed around Formula 1 for years, but new and younger fans are driving change by refusing to remain silent, four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel said on Thursday.

Sexist, racist and homophobic behavior by spectators was reported at this month’s Austrian Grand Prix, with the sport condemning incidents in the campsites and stands. Read more

Aston Martin driver Vettel suggested such behavior, in a sport that has always been male-dominated, was less a new phenomenon than a desire to expose it.

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“I think there has been a change in the fan base. I think we can all see the enthusiasm for Formula 1 and I think we can see a younger audience on average coming to the track,” the German told reporters ahead of the French Grand Prix. .

“I think the abuse has probably always been there…but maybe you’re starting to see a generation coming onto the track that stands up and complains about it and makes noise.

“It’s great to see that people have the courage to speak up and that we learn what is happening. Because only by acting like this can we act.

“I don’t think it’s going to get worse. The truth, unfortunately, is that it’s been going on for a long time in all major sporting events or major events.”

Formula 1 has seen a resurgence in popularity, largely attributed to the Netflix docu-series “Drive to Survive” which has attracted new and younger audiences.

This series also shed light on personalities, and some saw tribal loyalties emerge.

The rise of 24-year-old Dutch driver Max Verstappen to world champion last year after a fierce and ultimately contentious battle with seven-time Mercedes world champion Lewis Hamilton has also brought changes.

Hamilton and Vettel have been outspoken in the sport in support of LGBTQ+ issues, human rights and diversity.

“I don’t think we should just say it’s Formula 1’s problem, I think it’s all of us,” Hamilton said. “We can all do more.

“I think football has done some positive things in terms of the announcements that are being made…we just have to keep taking a stand and I think the more we project the direction we want to go hopefully slowly people will sail this road.”

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Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Ed Osmond

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