F1 commentator suspended after calling Lance Stroll ‘autistic’ during live Austria GP coverage

A Formula One television commentator has been suspended for calling Lance Stroll “autistic” during the Austrian Grand Prix.

Lionel Froissart, a French-language broadcaster for Belgium’s RTBF Sport, was standing down pending an investigation into a comment he doubled down on after it was deounced on air by his co-commentator.

The insult caused a storm on social media, with RTBF having also provided the official French-language commentary for Sunday’s race for F1TV.

Froissart delivered it while discussing Aston Martin’s driver line-up of Stroll and four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, accusing “the autistic” Canadian of not understanding anything about cars.

He was quickly challenged by colleague Gaetan Vigneron who said: “That’s too strong. You are going too far.”

But Froissart retorted: “Honestly, this is the truth.”

In a statement released to GPFans, RTBF said: “RTBF strongly condemns the words used on Sunday, July 10, on air by its consultant Lionel Froissart during the Austrian Grand Prix,” read the statement.

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

“An internal investigation will be conducted, to hear all the involved persons. The goal is to understand in detail what could have led to this incident.

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

The Austrian GP was marred by sexist, racist and homophobic abuse from the stands, with F1 launching investigations into multiple cases of minority groups allegedly being targeted with bigoted attacks from fellow-goers at Spielberg.

Lewis Hamilton wrote on Instagram prior to the race that he was “disgusted and disappointed” about the incidents, adding: “We cannot sit back and allow this to continue.”

He added afterwards that the furore had ruined his day.

“I arrived with a really positive mindset this morning, and then I heard of some of the things that have been said and I’m just in a bit a shock and just really sad.”

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