Verstappen criticises own fans in Austria

Max Verstappen has criticised his own fans at the Red Bull Ring.

A week ago at Silverstone, Lewis Hamilton’s fans spent the weekend booing Dutchman Verstappen, who a year earlier had been locked in an ultra-intense battle for the world championship.

Now, as 50,000 Dutch fans calling themselves the ‘orange army’ descended on the Austrian GP venue, they cheered wildly when Mercedes’ Hamilton crashed out of qualifying.

“Basically, I think it’s a shame that the fans actually react like football fans, who always boo the opponent,” world champion Verstappen told Sport1.

“In the Netherlands they whistle against Lewis, in England it’s against me. I think that’s a shame because we often have extremely tough, sporting, high quality fights.

“You also have to respect your opponent. I’m a PSV (Dutch football team) fan, but when I watch a great game, I enjoy it whether my team wins or loses.

“It would be nice if the fans behaved like that in our sport,” the 24-year-old added.

However, Verstappen admits that his championship battle with Charles Leclerc is much friendlier this year.

“It’s because of how much you respect the other person,” he admitted.

“As I’ve said, I’ve known Charles for a long time, so you automatically have more respect for each other because, logically, you know each other a lot better.”

But he said he always fights an opponent with the same gusto – even when he’s driving a damaged Red Bull and racing wheel-to-wheel with Mick Schumacher, as was the case at Silverstone.

“I could see that he wanted more,” Verstappen said. “At the same time I had a damaged car which was not easy to control but I still drove as if it was for victory.

“It’s in my nature. Every point counts. It was a good fight and I was definitely pleased that it was a breakthrough for Mick.”

When asked if Schumacher is starting to do enough to warrant a car capable of victory, Verstappen answered: “That will depend on Mick.

“If he works hard and keeps improving, anything is possible.”

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