Latifi denounces 'abuse, death threats' after Abu Dhabi crash

© XPB 

A shocked Nicholas Latifi has taken to social media to denounce the "hate, abuse and threats of violence" he received after his crash in the recent Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The Williams driver's crash brought at Yas Marina's Turn 14 in the closing stages of F1's title decider triggered a safety car and set in motions a series of events that turned the race on its head and led to Max Verstappen snatching the lead from Lewis Hamilton on the event's final lap.

Almost immediately, a deluge of nefarious messages were sent Latifi's way on social media, with their authors senselessly holding the Canadian driver responsible for the race's outcome.

While not surprised by the ludicrous comments, Latifi deleted Twitter and Instagram from his phone to shut out the haters.

"I've purposely been staying away from social media to kind of let things settle down from the events of the last race," he wrote in an open later published on Tuesday.

"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 accused those who directed their ire and abuse at him, and to those close to him, of not being "true fans of the sport".

Although he believes he's developed a thick skin as a "sports person who competes on the world stage", the 26-year-old was still shocked by "the extreme tone of the hate, abuse, and even the death threats I received".

"People will have their opinions, and that's fine," the Williams driver added.

"Having a thick skin is a huge part of being an athlete, especially when you are constantly in a position to be scrutinized. 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.

"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 realize 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 behavior 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."

Formula 1's teams unanimously condemned the abuse directed at Latifi with messages of support for the Canadian.

"There is never a place for the abuse directed at Nicholas after the Abu Dhabi GP," said McLaren on Twitter. "He and anyone else suffering from this scourge has our support."

"This kind of behaviour has no place in our sport," tweeted Aston Martin. "Well done for speaking out. We are all with you."

"We stand with you @NicholasLatifi, and thank you for speaking out," wrote Alpine. "No one should be subjected to online abuse like this.

And George Russell also posted  a few words in support of his good friend and now former Williams teammate.

"Huge respect to you for speaking up, @NicholasLatifi. There's no place for this kind of hatred in our world."

Damn straight, George!

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