Max Verstappen has launched a vigorous defence of Red Bull strategist Hannah Schmitz’s integrity following venomous online abuse in the wake of the Dutch GP.
Schmitz has hit the headlines this season, notably after being singled out for praise by Verstappen after his victory in the Hungarian GP after starting from 10th on the grid.
While Schmitz is only one part of Red Bull’s strategy team, being in the spotlight of late resulted in her being targeted by online trolls given the conspiracy theory that followed Verstappen’s 10th win of the year on home soil at Zandvoort on Sunday.
Reacting to the abuse of Schmitz, Red Bull issued a statement condemning the latest shocking comments.
Max Verstappen said: “It [the abuse] is not correct, and I’m glad we’ve put that statement out to address things, and that’s how it should be.
“But at the end of the day, these things shouldn’t even happen because, first of all, to think about these 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 it.”
As to whether he had directly spoken to Schmitz, the reigning champion added: “Of course, it’s terrible but Hannah is a very strong person and she knows what she’s doing.
“We don’t need to speak one-on-one for that. I don’t think she’s here this weekend but, for sure, when I see her maybe I’ll mention it.
“But she shouldn’t give it too much attention because these people don’t deserve it.”
Verstappen demands action from social media companies
Verstappen has called on the giants of social media to do more to stamp out the abuse as words of condemnation have no effect.
“That’s the problem, and you leave everything open on social media,” remarked Verstappen. “Everyone can say what they want.
“There needs to be a lot more addressed on hate.
“It seems like these companies put a bit of focus on it but it’s still not enough because you can create other accounts and keep on going.
“Of course, even if they block your IP address you can go somewhere else. People are smart enough to go around it.
“Definitely, they need to come up with a solution for that. Of course, social media is growing, which is a great thing, a great tool to have but some parts of it are negative.”
With the integrity of Red Bull and Schmitz attacked, Verstappen insists the strength of the team can withstand the trolls, although he recognises more still needs to be done.
“It doesn’t matter what team it’s about, in general, it’s just ridiculous,” said Verstappen.
“But on the other hand, we know what we’re doing, we love the sport, so we should look ahead.
“Of course, we are very happy we won the race there [at Zandvoort]. What people say on social media doesn’t really bother us, but it should really not happen in the first place.
“That’s what you try to address, so you stress that you hope in a few years’ time these things are not possible to do.
“Besides that, we are a strong team and we focus on our job.”