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14th Jul 2022

F1 commentator suspended for calling Lance Stroll ‘autistic’ during Austrian GP coverage

Callum Boyle

The commentator has been suspended with immediate effect.

A Formula One commentator has been suspended indefinitely after calling g “autistic” during live coverage of the Austrian Grand Prix.

Lionel Froissart, who works for Belgium’s RTBF Sport, was forced to stand down – pending an investigation – after doubling down on the comment, despite being challenged by his co-commentator.

RTBF have ‘strongly condemned’ the slur.

Froissart made the comments when discussing Aston Martin’s driver line-up of Sebastian Vettel and Stroll, accusing the “autistic” driver of not knowing anything about cars.

Gaetan Vigneron, his co-commentator, quickly challenged the slur, saying: “That’s too strong. You are going too far.”

However, Froissart stood by his comments. He replied: “Honestly, this is the truth.”

RTBF released a statement, via GPFans, “strongly condemning” the comments made and that “an internal investigation will be conducted.”

The statement added: “Associating autism with a driver’s way of communicating was misplaced and completely inconsistent with RTBF values.

“Pending the results of this investigation, RTBF will no longer work with the consultant in question until further notice.”

F1 Lance Stroll

Austrian GP marred by several reports of abuse

The Austrian Grand Prix itself was marred by several allegations of sexist, racist and homophobic abuse from the stands in Spielberg.

One report from a female attendee claimed that five Dutch supporters lifted up her dress and said: “No [Lewis] Hamilton fan deserves respect.”

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, who was cheered on by over 60,000 supporters last weekend, said regulations on alcohol consumption need to come into place.

“One thing that can be improved is the security around places to keep people more in check,” he said.

“These things can be regulated. There is a certain amount of alcohol a person should have until it is time to go to bed and wake up sober the next morning because if you start to go crazy, you can do stupid things.”

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