Max Verstappen says it is not up to him to stop Dutch fans from booing Lewis Hamilton at Zandvoort this weekend but has urged his title rival to send a “powerful message” by not responding if they do.
Since the pair collided back at Silverstone, Hamilton has been booed by sections of the crowd at the Hungarian and Belgian GPs – and there is expected to be an even more partisan atmosphere this weekend as the ‘Orange Army’ descends on Zandvoort for the first Dutch GP since 1985.
Verstappen, who is supported by a sea of orange at most European races but is braced for an incredible welcome at home, says he hopes fans are “professional” but stressed he won’t be telling them what or what not to do.
“I look at it like this; you go to a football match and you come to a home ground, the opposition will be booed at some point,” said Verstappen, who can take the championship lead with a win.
“And it’s not up to the local club to go up to the speaker and say guys you cannot boo, because that will not happen.
“I’m pretty sure that most of them are here to have a great weekend and see some cars racing, and of course some of them will boo. But I cannot decide for them.
“Of course I can say you can do it or you cannot do it, but do you really think they’re going to listen to me?”
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Verstappen then told Sky Sports F1: “I don’t say it’s correct but it does happen. It’s a natural instinct I think people have.
“Lewis has already said he isn’t bothered by it, so that’s the most important thing. I think we are all professional enough to focus on the driving. And then luckily in a way compared to football, we have a helmet on and an engine roaring, so we won’t hear it while driving, so you won’t be disturbed by it.”
If there are boos, Verstappen added Hamilton should not listen.
“I think what we have to try and aim for is a great weekend for everyone and I’m sure the fans will enjoy,” he stated. “If there would be a little bit of booing, I guess just close your ears and don’t listen to it.
“At the end of the day if you don’t respond, that is the most powerful message you can give to them. I think when you don’t respond to someone they feel like it’s not working, for me at least it works like that.
“Of course from my side as well, I want everyone to be professional about it and enjoy the racing cars, every single team, every single car, every single driver, just be happy there’s a Formula 1 race back for the first time in 36 years.
“I’m sure it will be really nice to see us driving around and hopefully on Sunday we can create a good show for a lot of them.”
More to follow.
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