Would you join in with boos aimed at a driver in a Formula 1 race?

Would you join in with boos aimed at a driver in a Formula 1 race?

04-08-2021 11:00

The Formula 1 title fight in 2021 is heating up on the track. We saw tempers spill over following the crash in the British Grand Prix. A kind of war of words took place off the track between Mercedes and Red Bull Racing. In the end, attention moved towards the Hungarian Grand Prix where tempers were felt in the grandstand. When Lewis Hamilton climbed out of the cockpit to be interviewed by Johnny Herbert on Saturday, his answer was greeted by loud booing. 

The seven-time World Champion emerged from pitlane ahead of Max Verstappen. The Brit drove slowly through the pit lane and his rival stayed behind him as they went out onto the circuit. It perhaps looked like Hamilton was deliberately trying to ruin Verstappen's lap, and there may have been an element of mind games involved, but most of what we saw normally happens in Q3 as drivers look to find a gap in the traffic whilst looking after their tyres. 

Sergio Perez didn't make it across the line in time for the chequered flag, and neither Hamilton nor Verstappen changed order in the leaderboard. Hamilton picked up a roar of boos from the crowd. A lot of suggestions have been made that booing is new to F1 for this title fight. That the introduction of the Dutch crowd has helped lead to this, but it's totally untrue. Booing has unfortunately been part of F1 for a long time.  

2019 Canadian Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton engaged in a duel on the track in Canada. In the final third of the race, Vettel made a mistake and ran across the grass. As Hamilton was in the same corner, Vettel came back across the track and forced Hamilton on the brakes. The stewards handed the German with a five-second penalty.

In a similar style to the Hungarian Grand Prix, Martin Brundle conducted the interviews and Hamilton said: "All I can say is, I didn’t make the decision. I don’t know what they are booing at. Maybe it’s the decision…”. Vettel then had a say on the matter: "The people shouldn’t boo at Lewis if anything they should boo at these funny decisions."

Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton battle

The two Mercedes teammates were locked in a World Championship duel for three seasons. The two collided on the circuit a number of times through this duel, and tempers rose. On this occasion as well, both drivers experienced some boos from the crowd. In a conversation on Sky Sports, Rosberg explained his own experience of booing. 

"Booing, there's no place for that. I've been on the receiving end of that as well. Even a four-year-old girl was booing because her dad told her I'm bad. It's tough. Even though Lewis says it doesn't get to you, it does get to you. It's hard to be on the receiving end of that, but Lewis has been through everything already so he'll know how to deal with that," the 2016 World Champion said. 

Fernando Alonso and the Italian fans

Ferrari and Michael Schumacher achieved what was then unprecedented success in Formula 1. That was until Fernando Alonso turned up with Renault and started to beat the seven-time World Champion. In Monza 2006, Alonso retired from the race on lap 43 with an engine issue. 

The Spaniard stopped out on the circuit and climbed out of the car to receive some boos and some strong language as he walked alongside the grandstand. Another example of some heated fans during a World Championship title fight. 

2002 in Austria

Team orders...In one of the most famous examples of team orders, Rubens Barrichello was ordered to swap places with his Ferrari teammate Michael Schumacher. The move, made just meters before the finish line in Austria, was greeted by boos from those in the crowd. 

There are many more examples of booing within Formula 1. It's happened across the generations, with different drivers and in different context. It's certainly not just the Max Verstappen/Lewis Hamilton fight that is igniting these boos.  

Opinion by Rishi Wig

Booing is not uncommon in any sport in the world. It’s natural for fans to want to prop up their teams and individuals, which results in a proportional attempt at bringing down the opponent. In team sports, other players and coaches can be easy support structures to ensure that the individual does not feel the weight of their mistakes solely on their own shoulders. Unfortunately, it can be even more personal when it comes to motorsport.

A driver’s confidence strongly correlates to their latest results. If drivers even have the slightest doubts about their latest performances, boos can multiply those. For them, it feels like all those who are booing have seen their mistake and want to each express their own displeasure, which just adds to the driver’s existing guilt on letting their team down. If drivers are seasoned or have limited doubts in their abilities, these boos can easily roll off and be dismissed as excessive passion from excited fans.

We, as fans, should not be too frequent in expressing this displeasure. Formula One is the highest platform for motorsport, where driver’s and their families sacrifice their massive amounts of time and money over trying to actualise their dreams. We should not let our grievances be the things that derail them from their paths, otherwise, we waste the talents who have tried to forge their own names and paths in the history of motorsport. 

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