Nicholas Latifi has spoken about the negative social media feedback that he has received after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Latifi became one of the key figures on the final laps of the Abu Dhabi GP. He had a big crash in the last sector that forced the race control to bring the Safety Car out. That helped Max Verstappen get close and make an overtake on Lewis Hamilton on the last lap of the race to win the 2021 world championship.
After the race, Latifi got a lot of negative comments on social media because of the incident. More than a week after, the Williams driver released a statement in response to those messages.
Latifi revealed that he deleted all his social media after the race as he expected such a reaction. However, he was surprised by the tone of the messages.
“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 statement read.
“The ensuing hate, abuse, and threats on social media were not really a surprise to me as it’s just a 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.
“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.”
Latifi admitted that the messages did not affect him and emphasized the importance of speaking out against social media abuse.
“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.
“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 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.”