Latifi shocked by "hate, abuse and threats" online after Abu Dhabi F1 crash

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The Williams driver crashed into the wall at Turn 14 with six laps remaining at the Yas Marina Circuit, resulting in a safety car that would help decide the championship.

Race director Michael Masi opted to resume the race with one lap remaining, during which Max Verstappen passed Lewis Hamilton to win both the race and the title.

In an open letter he posted to social media on Tuesday, the Canadian called out the unpleasant messages he received in the wake of the race but says they were “not really a surprise to me.”

He also said he deleted Instagram and Twitter from his phone in the wake of the race in anticipation of receiving online abuse.

Latifi wrote: “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.

“I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to go about handling this. Do I ignore it and carry on? Or do I address it and tackle the bigger issue that is sadly a reality when you use social media?

“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.”

Latifi accepted that as a “sports person who competes on the world stage,” he was expecting criticism, but said what shocked him was “the extreme tone of the hate, abuse, and even the death threats I received.”

He said those close to him had also received abuse online and said those sending such messages are “not true fans of the sport.”

He added: “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.

Nicholas Latifi, Williams FW43B, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF21

Nicholas Latifi, Williams FW43B, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF21

Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images

“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.

“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.”

Latifi signed off by saying he hoped sharing his thoughts would “highlight the need for action” before adding: “Just be kind everyone!”

In a follow-up, Williams Racing added: “An important message from our driver @NicholasLatifi that we as a team wholeheartedly agree with.”

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