Williams driver Nicholas Latifi has revealed he has received death threats in the wake of Formula One’s controversial season finale.
The Canadian has been subjected to abuse after his crash at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix sparked a chaotic end to the title race.
The 26-year-old crashed into a wall with five laps left, bringing out the safety car, while Lewis Hamilton was leading.
It allowed Max Verstappen to pit for fresher tyres and ultimately overtake Hamilton to win the drivers’ championship after FIA race director Michal Masi’s call to allow the five lapped cars between Hamilton and Verstappen to unlap themselves.
Latifi wrote on his website on Tuesday: “Going back to the race weekend, as soon as the checkered flag dropped, I knew how things were likely to play out on social media.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“To the people who don’t understand or don’t agree with that, that’s fine with me. You can have your opinion. But to use those opinions to fuel hatred, abuse and threats of violence, not only to me, but to those closest to me as well, tells me these people are not true fans of the sport.
“Thankfully, I’m comfortable enough in my own skin, and I’ve been in this world long enough that I can do a pretty good job of just letting any negativity wash over me.
“But I know I’m not alone in thinking that a negative comment always seems to stick out more – and can sometimes be enough to drown out 100 positive ones.”