Latifi ‘received death threats’ over crash which denied Lewis Hamilton F1 title

Nicholas Latifi says he received "extreme" death threats after his crash at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix which led to Max Verstappen winning the F1 world title at the expense of Lewis Hamilton.

Williams driver Latifi, 26, crashed with only five laps remaining, resulting in the safety car being deployed and one of the most controversial finishes to a Formula One season of all-time.

Once the Canadian's car was cleared, FIA director Michael Masi issued an order that allowed the five lapped cars between Hamilton and Verstappen to un-lap themselves.

The decision sparked fury on the Mercedes pit wall as Verstappen, equipped with much fresher tyres, leapfrogged Hamilton on the final lap to claim his maiden world championship crown.

While Red Bull celebrated and Mercedes tried to appeal the result, Latifi faced a barrage of abuse on social media for unwittingly helping to decide the title.

In a statement, Latifi said he had faced "a lot of hate" in the aftermath of the race.

He revealed: "Going back to the race weekend, as soon as the chequered 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.

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"The ensuing hate, abuse, and threats on social media were not really a surprise to me as it's just the 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, who scored seven points during the 2021 F1 season, added how some of the comments he had received "crossed the line into something more extreme."

"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," he said.

"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 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.

"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."

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