Latifi speaks out after social media ‘death threats’

Jon Wilde
Nicholas Latifi at the Qatar Grand Prix. Lusail November 2021.

Nicholas Latifi on practice day for the Qatar Grand Prix. Lusail November 2021.

Nicholas Latifi has issued a lengthy response to the social media hate he has received since his unwitting role in the destiny of the Drivers’ World Championship.

The Canadian, whose crash entering the closing stages of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix sparked the chain of events that led to Max Verstappen denying Lewis Hamilton a record-breaking eighth individual title, revealed he had received death threats.

Before the Williams hit the wall after a battle with Mick Schumacher’s Haas at Yas Marina, Hamilton had held a sizeable lead over Verstappen which the Dutchman looked highly unlikely to close down.

But the Safety Car period while Latifi’s car was recovered, and the decision to allow only selected competitors to un-lap themselves, meant the Red Bull driver, on fresher tyres, could get past Hamilton on the one racing lap that remained and snatch the crown.

Latifi subsequently received a backlash on social media after finding himself inadvertently caught up in one of the most controversial incidents in Formula 1 history.

He admitted he had “felt it would be best if I deleted Instagram and Twitter on my phone for a few days” due to the level of hate, but has now returned with a 16-paragraph message explaining the scenario from his perspective.

“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,” wrote the 26-year-old.

“What shocked me was the extreme tone of the hate, abuse and even the death threats I received.

“Reflecting on what happened during the race, there was really only one group of people I needed to apologise to for the DNF – my team. I did that right afterwards. Everything else that followed was out of my control.”

Verstappen himself had said about the public reaction towards Latifi: “If he is smart, he will turn off his phone and ignore it. I just hope Nicholas can enjoy his holiday and come back stronger next year.”


Latifi added in his statement: “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.”


Verstappen's advice to Latifi after Abu Dhabi

Max Verstappen has advised Nicholas Latifi to turn his phone off after the Abu Dhabi GP.