“If there is a little bit of booing, I guess just close your ears and don’t listen to it,” says home favourite Max Verstappen; partisan crowd expected at Zandvoort this weekend as Dutch GP returns to F1 for first time in 36 years
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.
Lewis Hamilton was subjected to booing by some of the fans after qualifying on pole for the Hungarian Grand Prix
“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?”
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.”
Hamilton on potential boos & why it’ll be ‘tough’ to beat Max
When asked about the atmosphere later on Thursday, Hamilton said he would try to turn any negativity into a positive.
“It’s naturally something you expect, of course we’ve seen a lot of the orange fans all over,” said Hamilton, who holds a three-point title lead over Verstappen.
“I’ve never been someone who would go to an event and boo but I understand it, it’s just passion that the fans have or the dislike that some of them have of their opponents! But I respect it.
I’ve always loved coming out to Holland. Amsterdam is one of the greatest cities. I know I do have some ‘Team LH’ fans in the Netherlands, which I really appreciate. It will probably be a small portion in the grandstands out there and I admire them being able to withstand the boos, too! But that’s sport.
“What I do is I just try and turn that energy that they propel towards me, however you want to take it, and turn it into a positive, and try and put it into driving.”
Speaking to Sky F1 about his and Mercedes’ prospects this weekend, Hamilton continued: “It’s going to be a tall order to beat our competitors on Max’s home turf with the car that they’ve had, that’s very strong.
“We’re going to give it absolutely everything and hopefully we’ll be close.