Lewis Hamilton blamed the boos directed at Max Verstappen after qualifying for the 2022 British Grand Prix, on Saturday, on the “pain from last year” as Formula 1 returned to Silverstone to a packed house.
It was sheer bad sportsmanship to erupt into cheers and boos as Verstappen was asked about his session, in which he was second fastest – Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz stole pole position in a final frantic Q3 session.
World Champion Verstappen had just given his heart and soul in qualifying to entertain the very same people (not fans!) who found it in them to boo the Red Bull driver.
While Hamilton condemned the actions, he did find an excuse for his home fans: “We’re better than that and I definitely don’t agree with the booing. We should be here pushing everybody and it doesn’t make any difference.
“But I do really appreciate the support I have. Maybe some of them are feeling the pain from last year. Either way, I appreciate it,” added the seven-time F1 World Champion.
Hamilton referencing last year’s ferocious title F1 battle with Verstappen that was decided by a chaotic final five minutes in Abu Dhabi, where FIA officiating let down the sport, turning what should have been F1’s greatest day into its greatest farce.
While Hamilton was wrongly denied an eighth F1 title, Verstappen thoroughly deserved his first F1 World Championship trophy, hence the quandary for the sport.
It’s been a weekend where ghosts from the past have inexplicably emerged to mar the Silverstone weekend
Much water has flowed under the bridge, so to speak, with the FIA under its new President Mohammed Ben Sulayem attempting to set right the wrongs of the Jean Todt era.
But, apparently, the wounds are still fresh, mostly in England where Hamilton has won at Silverstone no fewer than eight times. It appears his fans have not forgotten.
Nelson Piquet’s racial slurs that grabbed headlines ahead of the British Grand Prix weekend have further incensed and disgusted the F1 world, which would have added to the wrath of the crowd as the Brazilian F1 veteran is the father of Kelly Piquet, Verstappen’s partner.
Nevertheless, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff echoed his Hamilton’s sentiments: “That’s unsportsmanlike. If you’re not into the other guy, just remain silent. I don’t think any of the drivers deserve booing, whatever happened last year. Being booed is abusive and there is a certain limit which we shouldn’t overstep.”
Verstappen, who was mighty in qualifying but too many mistakes y conditions in very trickcost him a top spot start to Sainz, but the #1 car will line up second on the grid. The Dutch ace has twice celebrated on the Silverstone F1 podium but never as a winner.
Of the boos that drowned out his parc ferme interview with Billy Monger, Verstappen said: “It was a bit disappointing because I couldn’t really understand Billy. It was a bit of a problem. But if they want to boo me, they can do that. For me it is not going to change anything.
“I am happy to be here. It is a great track, a great atmosphere in general. Maybe some of them don’t like me. That is fine. They all have their own opinions and I don’t care,” he added.
On track, Verstappen is hunting his third successive win in this campaign and looking to extend his championship points lead over teammate Sergio Perez who trails by 46 points after nine rounds, with Ferrari ace Charles Leclerc a further three points behind in third.
On Saturday, Max relished the conditions perhaps a bit too much, overdriving in Q3 may have cost him pole but will still start the race as favourite and the man to beat, which begs the hope that if he does win today, that he be treated with the respect he deserves.
It would be a shame if the Silverstone faithful descend to the depths of indecency that their Barmy Army or football hooligans parading as fans do year-in-and-year-out because as Hamilton said: “We are better than that.”
Let’s see if that is true. Organisers expect 140,000 F1 fans are expected to be at Silverstone today…