Latifi calls out social media 'hate and abuse' following Abu Dhabi crash

By Sports Desk December 21, 2021

Nicholas Latifi has revealed the "hate and abuse" sent to him on social media following his crash at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Williams driver Latifi skidded into the barriers late in the final race of the Formula One season on December 12, resulting in the safety car being called onto the track.

Latifi had been tussling with Mick Schumacher for 15th place, but the incident had huge repercussions at the front of the race.

Lewis Hamilton held a healthy lead over Max Verstappen at the time and looked all set to claim a record eighth world title.

Yet with the gap closed after Latifi's crash, the FIA contentiously allowed several lapped cars to overtake the safety car, meaning Hamilton and Verstappen had a one-lap sprint for the championship, with the Red Bull driver, who was on fresher tyres, coming out on top.

It will go down as one of the most memorable, and controversial, moments in F1 history, but Latifi has now confirmed he received abuse, including death threats, for his incidental part.

In a statement published on his official website, Latifi said: "I've purposely been staying away from social media to kind of let things settle down from the events of the last race.

"A lot has been made of the situation that came about after my retirement in Abu Dhabi. I've received thousands of messages to my social media accounts – publicly and via DMs. Most have been supportive, but there's been a lot of hate and abuse, too.

"This isn't some scripted statement, but rather me speaking my mind in the hope that this maybe sparks another conversation about online bullying and the drastic consequences it can have on people. Using social media as a channel to attack somebody with messages of hate, abuse and threats of violence is shocking – and something I am calling out.

"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. 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 sportsperson 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.

"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. 

"To all the fans and people that did have my back during this whole situation, I want to say a huge thank you. I've seen and read a lot of your messages and they are much appreciated. It's nice to know I have so many people supporting me."

Mercedes initially appealed against the result of the race, but subsequently withdrew their complaints.

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