Lionel Froissart, a French language commentator, has been suspended from F1 coverage, broadcaster Radio-télévision belge de la Communauté française (RTBF) said on Wednesday.
Froissart, while commentating for the Austrian Grand Prix last weekend, called Aston Martin driver Lance Stroll ‘autistic’. He made the remark on Belgian channel RTBF Sport.
As soon as the remark was made, Froissart’s co-commentator Gaetan Vigneron corrected him.
“That’s too strong. You’re going too far,” Vigneron said on air.
To which Froissart replied: “Honestly, this is the truth.”
The RTBF have now released a statement slamming Lionel Froissart. The Belgian broadcaster further added that a full investigation will be conducted into the incident.
“RTBF strongly condemns the words used on Sunday, July 10, on air by its consultant Lionel Froissart during the Austrian Grand Prix. Associating autism with a driver’s way of communicating was misplaced and completely inconsistent with RTBF values,” the company said.
“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 statement further read.
Lance is the son of billionaire Canadian businessman Lawrence Stroll, who is a part-owner of the Aston Martin Formula One team. The Canadian-Belgian racing driver, who drives under the Canadian flag, finished 13th in Austria. His teammate, four-time world champion, Sebastian Vettel was 17th.
Stroll has picked up three points in this season. He is 19th on the driver championship, only ahead of Williams driver Nicholas Latifi, who is yet to open his account.
Meanwhile, Charles Leclerc of Ferrari won the Austrian GP, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen second and Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton third.
It was Leclerc’s first victory since the Australian GP in April. After second place at the United States GP in May, Leclerc’s five races included two DNFs, two fourth places and one fifth.