F1 fans slammed for ‘scary reaction’ during Lewis Hamilton vs Max Verstappen title fight

Formula 1: Hamilton and Verstappen crash at 190mph

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Former Formula 1 commentator Alexey Popov has openly criticised the sport’s fans for their ‘scary’ and ‘disappointing’ reactions during the 2021 season. Max Verstappen sealed his maiden title in dramatic circumstances, denying Lewis Hamilton a record-breaking eighth world title in Abu Dhabi.

The bitter title rivals were remarkably level on points heading into the Yas Marina finale, but it was the Brit who was on course for an unprecedented eighth world title.

However, the Dutchman controversially passed the seven-time world champion – who had dominated for much of the race and even had an 11-second advantage near the death – on the final lap of the season as a late safety car and tyre change swung momentum in his favour. 

The 24-year-old snuck past Hamilton early on in the lap and then held his nerve to not let the Brit past.

Mercedes were seething afterwards, and directed their anger at FIA race director Michael Masi after he decided to not allow cars to unlap themselves, as is tradition, only to change his mind to set up the final lap showdown between Hamilton and Verstappen.

It led to mass outrage online, with many fans vehemently disagreeing with the outcome, feeling as if Hamilton was robbed of history.

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Journalist Popov disagreed with how Formula 1 fans conducted themselves in the last month following the result. 

“I am very disappointed with the way Formula 1 fans react to news nowadays,” Popov, who is often referred to as Russia’s voice of F1, said in an interview with Championat.com. 

“On my YouTube channel I’ve had almost the most views this year of a video with the headline ‘Max quits?’ It was just a reaction to people starting to hype the story – supposedly Max said he was leaving.

“I just explained that he wasn’t going anywhere. But the fact itself – such things attract people.

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“And what was the story? When I started to unravel the whole tangle, I found the original interview: it was on a BBC podcast. I listened to it twice. To twist what a person has said to such an extent, that’s a real challenge!

“I understand that it’s an unhealthy story these days, where people aren’t interested in going into detail, but are interested in a big headline, so that they can get into the comments and start bad-mouthing each other.

“I always thought Formula 1 was different from, say, football. I was very happy and proud that we have much more intelligent fans who respect each other. Respectful of the drivers they cheer for, but also of the other drivers and their teams. 

“This year, sometimes it was just scary: I see people talking crap about each other. Honestly, this is not the Formula 1 I was proud of at one point.”

Popov’s comments come after Williams driver Nicholas Latifi spoke out against the hate and death threats he received after his crash triggered the controversial events in Abu Dhabi.

Hamilton was all set to win the world title when Latifi lost control of his car and hit the wall, leading to the safety car coming out with five laps remaining. 

Latifi apologised for the crash but revealed the disgusting abuse he had received on social media.

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