Barbarians at F1’s gates

2019 Canadian Grand Prix, Sunday - LAT Images

I find it interesting to read articles and social media posts about fans being unruly and downright abusive in Austria as well as today’s most recent story about F1 cracking down on fans stealing track signage.

For decades this hasn’t been a big issue as fans streamed onto the track after races to celebrate the podium proceedings but with F1’s newfound popularity, it seems that with it comes a class of fans that have brought their hooliganism with them.

Reading some social media posts discussing comments made by Sir Jackie Stewart or Bernie Ecclestone as being out of touch, have suggested that these historic figures should be deprived of a platform for their voices. More calls for bans, lifetime bans, white line micromanagement, justice for drivers and infractions, firing on FIA race directors, calling team bosses racist, drivers racist, fans racist and protests are all some of the fun that has come with F1’s new popularity.

F1 is apparently working with promoters to view and identify fans who have been stealing track signage, advertising hoardings and flags via video. It seems to be a craze on social media with fans showing their haul and track loot. Watching these videos, they aren’t the “old guys” or “white hairs” doing it. It’s not the veteran fans who have attended dozens of races over the years without stealing track signs or lifting women’s skirts.

No, the majority of these videos online are of young people who are behaving like football hooligans and blaming “old guys”. Nice try.

I’m excited that there are so many new fans in F1 but like many elements in this world, this newer generation seems intent on not learning about F1 and respecting its legacy but in changing it and pillaging it for their brand equity on social media as “influencers”.

It is a sad narrative and reminder that this is why we can’t have nice things.

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Isn’t much of that signage just thrown in the trash? I joked that I would like a “Welcome Race Fans” beer banner and a guy came up and asked if I wanted it, I said yes and he let me take it. He also gave us some free beers, saying it was all going to waste otherwise.


The DRS sign is second only to the braking distance signs as far as something I would want to hang in my garage.

Glen Mhor

Whenever we made it onto the track, everyone was respectful and happy, not abusive or destructive. I’m sure Bernie and Jackie have said many lovely things via their VIP access, sadly the new generation have less of a work ethic and think that they should be entitled to everything.

The increased exposure and popularity brings new challenges.