- The Canadian driver felt it would be best if he deleted Instagram and Twitter after the race
- Latifi felt his crash on the day was 'completely blown out of proportion' by the fans
- Latifi added he was surprised at the extreme tone of the hate, abuse, and death threats he received
Williams Racing driver Nicholas Latifi revealed he has been facing death threats on social media after his crash leading to safety-car controversy at the Abu Dhabi GP.
The 26-year-old Canadian wrote a long message on his website, "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 (sic)."
Latifi added that people are blaming him for deciding the outcome of the F1 title race after his late crash at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix led to Max Verstappen defeating Lewis Hamilton in a dramatic fashion at the last lap. The Canadian driver's late crash led to a safety car period of five laps; allowing Verstappen to change his tyres and reduce the gap between him and Hamilton. Also, race stewards made the controversial call of allowing four lapped cars in between to overtake the safety and allow the two championship battling cars to race for the final lap.
"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," wrote the Williams driver.
"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."