Formula 1 launches ‘Drive It Out’ campaign on abuse

Formula 1 launched a ‘Drive It Out’ initiative on Saturday to tackle abuse after recent incidents of racist and homophobic behavior by spectators and sexual harassment of female fans.

The sport said it was sending a clear and united message that abuse, both at races and on social media, had to stop and those who spread it were not welcome.

The campaign, sparked notably by abuse at this month’s Austrian Grand Prix, was launched via a video featuring the 20 drivers, Formula 1 chief executive Stefano Domenicali and FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem.

“Formula 1 is about competition and rivalry,” Domenicali said, opening a statement continued by a streak of drivers competing in Hungary this weekend.

“But also respect. Respect as competitors, respect for our fans, respect for the whole F1 family. Abuse of any kind is unacceptable. If you can’t be respectful, then don’t be part of our sport. .

“We can’t let those who think they can abuse others get away with it,” Mercedes’ seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton said before others completed the statement.

“We have a duty to call this out and say ‘no more’. We act as a community to block those who abuse others online. We will not allow abuse in our races. But we also need of social media platforms to fight abuse head online.

“Those behind social media with abusive and disrespectful opinions are not our fans. We are united and ask that you join us in driving this out of all sports and society. Get it out together.”

In Austria, where most of the crowd supported Red Bull world champion Max Verstappen, there were reports of drunken men harassing female fans, homophobic chanting and racial slurs.

Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel called for lifetime bans at the time while Hamilton said he was “disgusted and disappointed” by the behaviour.

Formula 1 has since spoken to Grand Prix promoters to ensure plans are in place to deal with incidents when they arise, and could also review alcohol sales during race weekends.

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