(Reuters) – Mercedes’ seven times world champion Lewis Hamilton said on Saturday he had been stunned to hear spectators cheered when he crashed hard in qualifying for the Austrian Formula One Grand Prix.
The 37-year-old Briton qualified 10th on Friday for the Saturday sprint.
He started ninth and finished eighth in a 23-lap race won by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen to the delight of the Dutch driver’s orange army of fans at the team’s home race.
Verstappen had been on the receiving end of boos and the wrong sort of cheers at Silverstone, Hamilton’s home race, last weekend.
Red Bull’s championship leader was booed when he qualified on the front row and cheered when he slowed in the race, a puncture and car damage dropping him from the lead to seventh.
“I was going through a bunch of stuff in the crash, but to hear it afterwards you know…I don’t agree with any of that, no matter what,” said Hamilton of the cheers after he hit the tyre barrier at speed.
“A driver could have been in hospital, and you are going to cheer that?
“It’s just mind-blowing that people would do that, knowing how dangerous our sport is. I’m grateful that I wasn’t in hospital and I wasn’t heavily injured,” added the sport’s most successful driver.
“You should never cheer someone’s downfall or someone’s injury.
“It shouldn’t have happened at Silverstone, even though it wasn’t a crash, and it shouldn’t have happened here.”
Verstappen said after the sprint that it had been great to see all the fans.
“You know there is a lot of orange around here, and you could hear them cheering. So that was very nice, for sure,” said the 24-year-old.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London; Editing by Hugh Lawson)