Toto Wolff addresses fans booing Max Verstappen after Lewis Hamilton given same treatment – Express

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has spoken out on a section of fans booing Max Verstappen at the United States Grand Prix. While on stage with team-mate Sergio Perez, some were heard repeatedly shouting ‘cheater‘ with the ongoing cost cap saga only adding to the controversial nature of his 2021 world title victory. 
Red Bull and Mercedes went toe to toe in a furious battle for the top prizes last season. With tensions soaring, the Silver Arrows won the Constructors’ Championship while Verstappen pipped Lewis Hamilton to individual honours via a blockbuster finale in Abu Dhabi. 
The validity of the win has once again been called into question over the past few weeks with Red Bull found to have breached last season’s £114million spending cap. The FIA are yet to formally dish out their punishment, although it is unlikely that Verstappen will have points deducted. 
Still, some supporters took an opportunity to vent their anger in Austin over the weekend, with Verstappen and Perez booed and heckled on stage during a fan event. 
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Toto Wolff Max Verstappen
On the incident, Wolff told Sky Germany: “That is unacceptable. The booing, whether it’s on the podium or on the fan stage, nobody wants to see that. I think we [Formula 1] have done a lot against this kind of behaviour. It is somewhat contained and it doesn’t belong here either. Something like that should not happen.
“It goes both ways. In Austria it was against Lewis, here [in the USA] it is massively against Max. We have to get everyone on the same page. We fight hard on and off the track, but we don’t have that kind of hostility towards each other.”
As mentioned by Wolff, Hamilton was targeted at the Red Bull Ring in Austria earlier this year with the tense 2021 title battle still fresh in fans’ minds. The Brit’s qualifying crash was loudly cheered by some supporters – a reaction condemned by many as Hamilton pointed out that it ‘could have put him in hospital’. 
“It is mind-blowing that people would do that, knowing how dangerous our sport is,” he added. “I am grateful I wasn’t in hospital and wasn’t injured. You should never cheer someone’s downfall, someone’s injury or crash.”
The week prior, Verstappen had been targeted by British fans who interrupted his on-track interview by producing a chorus of boos at Silverstone. 
Lewis Hamilton
Despite Mercedes’ performance upgrade in Austin, Verstappen and Red Bull once again pipped them by taking P3 in qualifying. That’s enough to see him start on the front row with Carlos Sainz due to Charles Leclerc receiving a grid penalty for taking on new engine components. 
Sergio Perez, who took fourth, will also tumble down the grid after receiving a five-place penalty, leaving Hamilton and George Russell to take up the second row, despite only posting the fifth and sixth-fastest times on Saturday. 
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