Sergio Perez calls for lifetime bans for abusive F1 spectators – ESPN

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LE CASTELLET, France — Red Bull driver Sergio Perez has joined calls to issue lifetime bans to spectators responsible for discriminatory, abusive behavior at Formula One races.
At the Austrian Grand Prix two weeks ago, multiple accounts of anti-gay, racist and sexist abuse were shared on social media by fans in the buildup to the race.
F1 condemned the abuse in a statement ahead of the grand prix and said it would discuss the issue with the race promoter.
After the race in Austria, several team bosses and drivers made clear that discriminatory abuse should not be tolerated among fans in F1, and ahead of this weekend’s French Grand Prix, Perez called for more serious action to be taken against spectators involved in such incidents.
“We definitely should, hopefully, ban them for life,” he said. “Don’t welcome them again, because they don’t represent who we are as a sport, and they don’t share our values at all.
“But at the same time we have great fans out there and with great values and I think a few fans shouldn’t be able to even embarrass our sport like that.”
Seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton said the sport as a whole needed to do more to combat discrimination.
He drew attention to F1’s We Race As One campaign, which was launched in 2020 to “fight the challenges of COVID-19 and global inequality,” but is now rarely referenced by the sport.
“I think Formula One 100% should continue to do more,” Hamilton said. “In the previous years we had the whole We Race As One thing, but that really was just a lip service that we’re not … we need to do more.
“And I know Formula One and Stefano [Domenicali, F1 CEO] are really focused on doing more and definitely taking it seriously this year, with the last race, but we can always do more.
“Everyone can do more. Every team, every company here can do more. It’s about accountability. God knows, there must be a thousand partners, I guess, within the Formula One organisation probably, or hundreds maybe and it’s about accountability with all those.
“What are they doing in their space in terms of … everyone should be pushing for diversity, inclusion and the messaging that we all use with our platforms.”
Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel suspects abuse has always been present at races, but believes the latest generation of fans is now willing to call it out.
“I think there has been a shift in fan base [for F1],” Vettel said. “I think we can all see the excitement for Formula One and I think we can see a younger audience, on average, coming to the track.
“I think the abuse has probably always been there. But I don’t think at any time it was or is correct. But I think maybe you are starting to see a generation coming to the track that actually stands up and complains about it and makes a noise and uses different platforms to communicate.
“So, I think it’s great to see that people are having the courage to speak up and we are learning about these things going on, because only by doing so we can take action. So I don’t think it will escalate.
“I think the truth, unfortunately, is probably that it has been going on for a long time at all major sport events or big events. And it’s more than about time that these things are changing, because there’s just no space for such things.”


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