Max Verstappen has called on Formula 1 fans to improve their attitude towards drivers, stating “respect” must be shown to the competition.
At the United States Grand Prix last weekend Verstappen appeared to be booed on the podium after securing his 15th win of the year.
The Dutchman is expected to face similar adversity this weekend in Mexico with much of the crowd turning out to support his Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez.
Organisers of the Mexico City Grand Prix have launched a #Racespect campaign for the event while Verstappen will be equipped with bodyguards throughout the weekend.
Verstappen highlighted that respect towards competitors is lacking across sports on an international level.
“I think it's a good thing that maybe it starts here now, but it's not only here,” Verstappen told media including RacingNews365.com.
“I think in general the behaviour of the crowd in some places I think can be a bit better.
“Austin maybe it was a bit towards me but in general, I think the behaviour of supporting your favourite driver is fine.
“But then I think you also have to respect the competition. This is not only in our sport, I think it's a general problem in a lot of sports that I think needs to be looked at and needs to be improved.”
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Verstappen denies Perez rivalry
Verstappen and Perez have been paired together at Red Bull since 2021 and have largely enjoyed a trouble-free partnership.
However, matters appeared to boil over at last year’s Sao Paulo Grand Prix when Verstappen refused to carry out a team order as Red Bull attempted to seal second place in the Drivers’ Championship for Perez.
The duo have rarely been close together on the track this season as Perez has struggled for form amid a dominant campaign for Verstappen.
But Verstappen has denied that there is a rivalry between the two.
“That’s made up,” he said. “Checo and I get on really well. For us, I don't think there is any rivalry.
“Of course, as a driver on track, you always want to be first or you try to be faster. We have a lot of respect for each other and we appreciate each other's performances.”
Perez asserts all F1 drivers are rivals
Perez underlined that every F1 driver sees a rival in every other comepetitor as they attempt to come out on top throughout the weekend.
However, he has denied that there is anything out of the ordinary between himself and Verstappen.
“We are all rivals but at the same time we are all sports athletes, and we all want to do the best for ourselves,” Perez said.
“Max and myself, we are in the same team so we both want to win and we are all giving our best so I don't think that there should be any rivalry.
“For example, if I'm fighting in the race with Fernando [Alonso], he's not my rival out of the track, it's just that we are just fighting on track.
“But like I say, the media likes to create this rivalry out of the track which I don't think is right and it's important for the fans to understand that.”