Williams F1 driver Nicholas Latifi has posted an emotional message on his social media revealing the true scale of the torrent of abuse he has suffered since the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Latifi crashed in the closing stages of the race after a tussle with Haas’s Mick Schumacher over second-to-last place.
The incident caused the infamous safety car which led to the hugely controversial race ending in which Verstappen passed Hamilton on fresh soft tyres in a one-lap shootout to decide the championship result.
Afterwards the Canadian was targeted in the comments sections and via direct messages with abuse from those somehow blaming him for the outcome of the title.
He says that the hate he received was expected and caused him to delete all social media from his phone after the race, as online abuse is now the “stark reality of the world we live in.”
“I’m no stranger to being talked about negatively online, I think every sports person who competes on the world stage knows they’re under extreme scrutiny and this comes with the territory sometimes.
“But as we’ve seen time and time again, across all different sports, it only takes one incident at the wrong time to have things completely blown out of proportion and bring out the worst in people who are so-called ‘fans’ of the sport.
“What shocked me was the extreme tone of the hate, abuse and even the death threats I received.”
The absolutely abhorrent negativity ensuing from social media since the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, aimed in any direction these people can possibly dream up, not just towards Latifi, is truly disgusting and I personally am appalled by it and condemn it in every way.
The avenue of the abuse Latifi has received seems to centre around the idea that he shouldn’t have been battling so hard with Schumacher over a non-points paying position.
“Some people said I was racing for a position that didn’t matter with only a handful of laps remaining.
“But whether I am racing for wins, podiums, points or even last place, I will always give it my all until the checkered flag. I’m the same as every other driver on the grid in that regard.”
He admitted he was unsure whether to post this message or whether to stay silent, but wants to help people who’ve been similarly affected.”
I realise I’m unlikely to convince those who acted in this way towards me to change their ways – and they may even try to use this message against me – but its right to call out this kind of behaviour and not stay silent.
“If sharing my thoughts, and highlighting the need for action, helps just one person, then it was worth it.”
(Posted to DriveTribe on 21/12/21)