Latifi received death threats after Abu Dhabi F1 crash

Nicholas Latifi has revealed he received death threats in response to the major role he had in deciding the outcome of the Formula 1 world championship. 
Nicholas Latifi (CDN) Williams Racing FW43B.
Nicholas Latifi (CDN) Williams Racing FW43B.

The Williams driver inadvertently had an influencing factor on deciding the 2021 F1 title battle between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton when he crashed in the closing stages of the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. 

Latifi’s crash resulted in the Safety Car that led to the controversial restart which ultimately set up Verstappen’s last-lap overtake on Hamilton to clinch both the race win and world title. 

Latifi issued an apology for the unwanted role he played and “purposely” stayed away from social media in the direct aftermath of the race in the wake of a torrent of online abuse. 

SEE ALSO: The blameless victim caught up in F1 finale controversy 

Addressing the events for the first time publicly in a statement issued on his official website, the Canadian acknowledged many of the messages he received were supportive but said “there’s been a lot of hate and abuse too”. 

“As soon as the checkered flag dropped, I knew how things were likely to play out on social media,” Latifi wrote. “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.”

Nicholas Latifi (CDN) Williams Racing FW43B.
Nicholas Latifi (CDN) Williams Racing FW43B.

Latifi condemned the actions of people he described as being “not true fans of the sport”. 

"Some people said I was racing for a position that didn’t matter with only a handful of laps remaining,” he continued. “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. 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.” 

Latifi explained he felt the need to call out the social media abuse due to being concerned about how other athletes might react to finding themselves in a similar situation in the future. 

“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,” Latifi added. “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.

"People will have their opinions, and that’s fine. Having a thick skin is a huge part of being an athlete, especially when you are constantly in a position to be scrutinised. 

“But many of the comments I received last week crossed the line into something far more extreme. It concerns me how somebody else might react if this same level of abuse was ever directed at them. No one should let the activities of a vocal minority dictate who they are.

“Events in the last week have made me see how important it is to work together to stop this kind of thing happening and to support those on the receiving end. 

“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 it’s right to call out this kind of behaviour and not stay silent.” 

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