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Nicholas Latifi received death threats after Abu Dhabi crash played decisive role in Max Verstappen title win

·3-min read
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  • Max Verstappen
    Max Verstappen
    Dutch-Belgian racing driver
  • Nicholas Latifi
    Nicholas Latifi
    Canadian racing driver

Nicholas Latifi revealed he has received death threats after his crash at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix played a decisive role in the outcome of the world championship.

The Williams driver lost control of his car and went into the wall late in the race, resulting in the safety car being brought out.

That led to Max Verstappen pitting and eventually having the gap to Lewis Hamilton at the front wiped out, before the Dutchman produced the overtake on the final lap of the season to take the title.

Hamilton was in control of both the race and the championship before Latifi’s crash and the Canadian driver has now spoken out about the reaction to the incident, and hopes by doing so he can start a conversation on the “drastic consequences” of online bullying.

“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,” Latifi said.

“I’ve received thousands of messages to my social media accounts...most have been supportive, but there’s been a lot of hate and abuse, too.

“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.”

Latifi revealed the only people he felt had to apologise to after the crash were those in his team, as the events that followed were out of his control.

While the 26-year-old said he was comfortable enough in himself to not be too negatively impacted by the comments, he feared what it could have done to someone else.

“People will have their opinions, and that’s fine,” Latifi said. “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.”

Speaking after the race in Abu Dhabi about Latifi receiving abuse online for the crash, Verstappen defended the Canadian and urged him to switch off from social media.

“I think [receiving abuse is] just very unfair. Every driver tries to do their best,” Verstappen said

“I think nobody crashes on purpose or does that. I think what’s important for him then is just to turn off your phone and don’t listen to it.”

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