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Has F1's growing popularity caused 'polarised' fan support?

Christian Horner has given his take on the behaviour of F1 fans at recent events, following reports of abuse in the grandstands, as well as drivers being booed and crashes being cheered.

Christian Horner is hopeful F1 will find a way of overcoming the unpleasant fan behaviour that has recently made the headlines, saying it "doesn't belong" in the sport. It follows an Austrian Grand Prix weekend where multiple concerning reports of fan harassment emerged, prompting condemnation throughout the paddock. F1 issued a statement ahead of the race confirming the "unacceptable" behaviour, with investigations ongoing alongside event organisers and security. In response, Red Bull driver Max Verstappen described some of the stories he read as "shocking", while Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff urged misbehaving fans to "stay at home".

Horner weighs in with his thoughts on F1 fan behaviour

In addition to the abuse trackside, fans have been heard booing certain drivers at recent events, as well as cheering crashes. After Verstappen faced boos from the crowd at Silverstone, Hamilton's qualifying crash at the Red Bull Ring was celebrated by fans watching on. Asked for his views on the overall situation when speaking to media, including RacingNews365.com , Horner said: "I think regarding these isolated incidents that have happened, obviously we do not condone abuse or bullying or racism or prejudice in any way, shape or form. "I think we stand absolutely united with every member of the F1 community on that. "I was pleased to hear on the podium that, certainly from where I stood, there was no booing for Lewis; there was respect for all the drivers, which is how it should be."

Horner suggests F1 fans' support "has polarised"

Horner was then asked whether the sport has found itself treading a thin line between "pantomime" and sporting rivalry. It comes after a fierce battle for the 2021 title between Verstappen and Hamilton, which often led to controversial off-track exchanges. "I think in terms of preference for a driver or team, that's always going to happen," continued the Red Bull team boss. "The one thing that is intolerable is any form of abuse or prejudice or racism or homophobia – anything like that doesn't belong in the sport." Amid a boom spearheaded by Netflix's Drive to Survive series, Horner then suggested: "As F1's popularity has increased, fans' support has polarised. "When you've got record crowds attending, and new audiences coming into the sport, we're breaking records at every single Grand Prix that we go to... "With so many new fans coming into the sport, you're always gonna have heroes and villains from circuit to circuit."

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