Verstappen slams ‘ridiculous’ foul play accusations, Schmitz abuse

Max Verstappen has labelled accusations of foul play against AlphaTauri as “ridiculous” and has called out the abuse directed at Red Bull’s head of F1 strategy Hannah Schmitz. 
Verstappen slams ‘ridiculous’ foul play accusations, Schmitz abuse

The circumstances surrounding AlphaTauri driver Yuki Tsunoda’s retirement at last weekend’s Dutch Grand Prix prompted a flurry of conspiracy theories on social media after the subsequent Safety Car period played into the hands of Red Bull and Max Verstappen, who went on to win his home race at Zandvoort. 

Both AlphaTauri and Schmitz, who is in charge of strategy at sister team Red Bull, were subjected to “hateful behaviour”, leading AlphaTauri to put out a statement condemning the “unacceptable, untrue and completely disrespectful” abuse. 

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Verstappen was asked for his thoughts on the matter when he spoke to media ahead of this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix at Monza. 

"It’s not correct and I’m happy they put that statement out, like they have with many other things as well, to address things,” said Verstappen. "That’s how it should be. 

“But at the end of the day, these things shouldn’t even happen. First of all, to think about these kinds of things is already ridiculous. Why would you even think that is possible in this sport? 

“That individuals get hated on, is beyond me, how you can do that.” 

Verstappen slams ‘ridiculous’ foul play accusations, Schmitz abuse

Asked whether he had spoken to Schmitz directly, Verstappen said: “Hannah is a very strong person and she knows what she’s doing. 

“We don’t need to speak one on one for that. Also, I don’t think Hannah is here this weekend. 

“For sure when I see her maybe I’ll mention it, but on the other hand, we shouldn’t give it too much attention because these people don’t deserve it.”

Verstappen believes social media companies can do more to crackdown on abusive accounts and permanently ban such individuals. 

"The problem is when you leave everything open on social media, everyone can say whatever they want,” he said. 

“I think there needs to be a lot more addressing on hate and it seems like these companies, they put a bit of focus on it, but not enough. 

“You can create other accounts and keep on going. If they block your IP address you can go somewhere else. People are smart enough to get around it. 

“Definitely they need to come up with a solution for that. Of course social media is growing and I think it’s a great tool to have, but some parts of it are quite negative.” 

While Verstappen acknowledged the abuse is “ridiculous”, he insists Red Bull won’t let it distract them from the job at hand. 

“We know what we’re doing, we love the sport, and we just look ahead,” he added. “We are very happy we won the race there and what people say on social media doesn’t really bother us. 

“But it should not really happen in the first place. That’s what you try to address and why you stress on, that hopefully in a few years time these things are not possible to do. 

“Besides that, we’re a strong team and we are very happy to be here and we just focus on our job.”

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