Max Verstappen ‘sadness’ spotted as F1 champion is booed by fans again

Max Verstappen may have romped to a second successive F1 title in 2022 but he continues to polarise opinion among fans of the sport.

While the Dutchman is hugely popular in the Netherlands and Belgium, where his mother is from, and Austria, he now regularly receives a negative reception among from other countries. Presumably because of the controversial way he pipped Lewis Hamilton to the 2021 title, he was booed at the British Grand Prix earlier this year.

He and teammate Sergio Perez were heckled with cries of “cheats” during a public appearance at the United States Grand Prix after Red Bull were found to have breached F1’s cost cap.

READ MORE: Max Verstappen merchandise cut up and binned amid backlash over Sergio Perez row

And last weekend, at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, he was booed by a section of fans after claiming pole position and winning the race. That reaction may have been influenced by his refusal to obey a team order to let Perez by in the closing stages of the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.

Former F1 driver Jan Lammers, the sporting director of the Dutch Grand Prix, where Verstappen receives fanatical support, has expressed his sympathy with the 25-year-old.

“With all his dominance this year, I still feel a bit sorry for him when he is booed,” Lammers told Dutch outlet NOS at the weekend.

“What do they want from a racing driver? If you're really a motorsport fan, I wonder, how much better do you want it?

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“When it happens, I think I see a kind of sadness in his eyes. He's just talking but you can see him thinking ‘what's this?’ I think that's sad, but luckily he can rise above it and perform above it.”

Verstappen was also booed at the Italian Grand Prix, Ferrari’s home turf, in September. After that race, he said: “Well, the atmosphere for me was not amazing. But it is what it is. When it happens, of course, everyone speaks to me about it, with the booing and stuff.

“But at the end of the day, I’m here to try and win the race which [I have] done. Some people, of course, they can’t appreciate that, but that’s because they are very passionate fans of a different team. And this is what it is. It won’t spoil my day. I’m just enjoying the moment.”


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