Williams driver Nicholas Latifi has revealed that he received “extreme” death threats after his crash at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – the start of the turn of events that eventually led to Max Verstappen controversially clinching the Formula 1 world title. It should be noted that the 26-year-old had crashed with five laps still remaining in the race that led to the safety car being deployed.
When the race resumed, it did with just one lap to go and eventually Verstappen overtook Lewis Hamilton, who had till then been leading for a long time, to win not only the race but also the world title. In an official statement released by Latifi he claimed to have received: “a lot of hate and abuse.”
“Going back to the race weekend, as soon as the chequered flag dropped, I knew how things were likely to play out on social media,” he stated in a lengthy statement.
“The fact that I felt it would be best if I deleted Instagram and Twitter on my phone for a few days says all we need to know about how cruel the online world can be,” he added.
“The ensuing hate, abuse, and threats on social media were not really a surprise to me as it’s just the stark reality of the world we live in right now. 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,” he said.
— Nicholas Latifi (@NicholasLatifi) December 21, 2021
“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,” he further said.
Notably, the sports’ governing body FIA has already launched an inquiry into the events in Abu Dhabi where the race director Michael Masi seemingly did not follow the body’s own rules which needed to be followed in case of a safety-car period. The FIA has also admitted that all of this being played out is not good for the sport.