Formula 1 is struggling to combat a rash of homophobic, racist, and sexual abuse occurring at its events, making clear that a campaign to combat the troubling incidents is not working.
Following reports of homophobic, racial and sexual harassment at the Austrian Grand Prix on July 10, 2022, Formula 1 announced its ‘Drive it Out’ campaign in an effort to combat these incidents occurring at Grand Prix events.
The ‘Drive it Out’ campaign launched at the 2022 Hungarian Grand Prix with a video of all 20 drivers, the FIA president Mohammed Bin Sulayem and F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali calling for “respect as competitors, respect for our fans, respect for the whole F1 family”. The campaign says “We won’t allow abuse at our races. But we also need social media platforms to tackle abuse head-on.”
‘Drive it Out’ asks for fans to call out abusive behaviour they see at the circuit and online. Extra security has been added to many events such as the French Grand Prix on July 24th. SOS phones were also added to the French race to combat the growing conflict between fans.
Drivers have also condemned the actions of fans, with Sebastian Vettel calling for “life bans” for those responsible, Whilst Max Verstappen has been less critical in his words stating “These things shouldn’t happen”
Regular workers are harassed
Since the release of the campaign there have been incidents of sexual assault and harassment, Megan Vlastra who was working behind a bar at the Dutch Grand Prix on September 4th 2022, saying “after work I went to the Fan Zone and I was grabbed by the neck and kissed by a man I did not know” Megan also said, “I was sexually harassed multiple times throughout the weekend while working”.
Danny van der Spek, who was also working behind a bar at the Dutch Grand Prix, said he saw “a girl being kissed without consent while queuing” at the bar he was working at.
There were also videos at the Italian Grand Prix on September 11th, 2022, showing fans who were wearing Red Bull merchandise being harassed while attending the race. The footage circulating online shows fans shouting at others telling them to take off their team merchandise.
Formula 1’s ‘Drive it Out’ campaign has had little effect since its implementation in July. There have been multiple incidents at Grand Prix since it was created to stop the behaviour occurring at events. “I didn’t even know about the campaign,” Megan said.. Danny also said “I don’t know what that campaign is”
Formula 1 have not mentioned anything about fan abuse since they released the ‘Drive it Out’ video for the campaign. The organisers of the Italian Grand Prix have since apologised for the “discomfort” fans felt while in attendance at Monza.
Fan abuse is causing many issues for those who attend the Grand Prix. Formula 1’s attempts at combating incidents thus far have been unsuccessful as incidents are continuing to take place.