Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton has criticised trackside fans who cheered his crash during sprint qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix.
Hamilton reached Q3 in qualifying, which took place on Friday ahead of the second sprint race of the season on Saturday.
However, during his second flying lap in the final session, he lost control of his Mercedes at turn seven and slid into the barriers. It was a heavy impact, and meant that he could not take any further part in qualifying.
After the crash occurred, some fans at the track cheered the fact that Hamilton had put his Silver Arrows car into the tyre barrier. The cheering quickly died down as fans realised that the 37-year-old had stayed in the car for a number of seconds. Thankfully, Hamilton did emerge uninjured, and travelled back to the pit lane.
Later in the session, his Mercedes team-mate, George Russell, also crashed. Cheering again could be heard after the incident, although it was not as loud as when Hamilton had his accident.
The race, which is held at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Styria, is the home race of Red Bull. Their lead driver, Max Verstappen, has a strong following at the circuit, with his fans dubbed the ‘Orange Army’.
Lewis Hamilton criticises ‘cheering’ fans after crash
As a result of his crash, Hamilton began the sprint race on Saturday in ninth place. He dropped two places following a first-corner racing incident with Pierre Gasly. The Brit then recovered to finish eighth, overtaking Mick Schumacher’s Haas in the closing stages.
When asked about the reaction to his crash, and the cheering by some fans, Hamilton replied: “I didn’t hear them during [the crash]. I mean, I was going through a bunch of stuff in the crash.
“But to hear it afterwards, you know, I don’t agree or condone any of that, no matter what.
“A driver could have been in hospital, and you’re going to cheer that? I mean, it’s just mind-blowing that people will do that, just knowing how dangerous our sport is.
“And I’m grateful that I wasn’t in hospital, and I wasn’t heavily injured. But you should never cheer someone’s downfall or someone’s injury or crash. It shouldn’t have happened in Silverstone, even though it wasn’t obviously a crash, and it shouldn’t have happened here.”
The Silverstone incident to which Hamilton is referring is when some fans booed his 2021 title rival, Max Verstappen, during the British Grand Prix weekend. Hamilton specifically pleaded with fans not to boo the Dutchman.
Speaking to The Guardian, in an interview published on Saturday, Verstappen condemned F1 fans who boo drivers.
He said: “Those people are not really F1 fans. They cannot really enjoy what is actually happening right now. A lot of great drivers actually fighting against each other. But they cannot appreciate that, and that’s a bit of a shame.
“How many times do you get to experience stuff like that? Such an intense rivalry, or fights. These people are not lovers of the sport.”
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