Williams driver Nicholas Latifi has revealed he received death threats following the controversial Formula 1 season finale.
The Canadian was abused after his crash at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix sparked a chaotic end to the title race.
The 26-year-old slammed into a wall with five laps to go, knocking out the safety car, while Lewis Hamilton led.
This allowed Max Verstappen to refuel for cooler tires and ultimately overtake Hamilton to win the Drivers’ Championship after the call from FIA Race Director Michal Masi to allow the five cars overtaken between Hamilton and Verstappen to get rid of themselves.
Latifi wrote on his website Tuesday: “Coming back to the race weekend, as soon as the checkered flag fell I knew how things were going to go on social media.
“The fact that I think it would be best to delete Instagram and Twitter on my phone for a few days says all we need to know about the cruelty of the online world.
“The hatred, abuse and threats that followed on social media didn’t really surprise me, as this is just the harsh reality of the world we live in now.
“I’m no stranger to being talked about negatively online, I think every athlete who competes on the world stage knows they are under extreme surveillance and that sometimes comes with the territory.
“But as we’ve seen time and time again, in all the different sports, it only takes one incident at the wrong time for things to go completely out of proportion and bring out the worst in the so-called ‘fans’ of the. sport.
“What shocked me was the extreme tone of hatred, abuse and even death threats I received.
“For people who don’t understand or agree with that, that’s fine with me. You can have your opinion. But use those opinions to fuel hatred, abuse and threats of violence, not just towards me, but also towards my relatives, tells me that these people are not real fans of this sport.
“Fortunately, I’m pretty comfortable in my own skin and been in this world long enough that I can do a really good job just letting any negativity wash over me.
“But I know I’m not the only one who thinks that a negative comment always seems to stand out more – and can sometimes be enough to drown out 100 positive comments.”