Hamilton sent Latifi messages of support after social media abuse over Abu Dhabi GP

2022 F1 season

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Williams driver Nicholas Latifi has revealed that he received messages of support from Lewis Hamilton and members of the Mercedes team after he received abuse and death threats online.

Latifi crashed out of the championship-deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in December, triggering the controversial late Safety Car deployment that ultimately enabled Max Verstappen to have the opportunity to attack and pass Hamilton for the race win and the world championship.

After receiving a torrent of online abuse following the race, including death threats, Latifi posted a statement on social media condemning the hate he had received from people who he characterised as “not true fans of the sport”.

Speaking after driving the Williams team’s new FW44 during a shakedown test at Silverstone, Latifi said that he had expected to receive online abuse for the Abu Dhabi incident, but that the volume and the extreme tone of some of the messages he had received had led him to want to speak out publicly against the behaviour.

“Obviously immediately after the days, as I wrote, I did take social media off of my phone,” Latifi said. “All the abuse that came, I had expected.

“When I did switch my phone back on with those apps, it was clear all the things that were coming in. As I said in the statement, it was a whole range of the general trolling that you get online – which, again, I’m no stranger to. I don’t think any sportsman is a stranger to having more hateful, abusive comments. And then yes, there were the more extreme death threats, which again, obviously goes way, way over the line.”

The Canadian’s statement received praise from fellow drivers and figures in Formula 1, as well as athletes of other sports fans across the world. Latifi also revealed that Hamilton had reached to him over the off-season.

“In terms of the support I got from it afterwards, Lewis did send me a message just a few days before I released the statement,” Latifi said.

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“Obviously I won’t go into details of what he said. I did get some messages of support from other team members at Mercedes as well. Obviously the whole outcry of support on social media from multiple drivers, teams across so many different disciplines was really nice to see, encouraging to see. Obviously everyone agreed with the whole sentiment and messaging.”

The problem of online abuse targeted at professional athletes is one that has received significant attention in recent years. Latifi highlighted the example of the racist abuse English football players Bukayo Saka, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford received after all three players missed in the penalty shootout during the final of last year’s Euro 2020 tournament.

“This has not been the only instance of a situation like this with online abuse,” Latifi said. “Obviously even going outside of motorsport, I think probably the next most recent one was probably Euro 2020 with the three English players missing the penalties and all the fallout they got after that.

“It’s just an issue that’s here, unfortunately, in the world we have with social media. Social media brings a lot of good, it gives people a lot of access to things that they wouldn’t normally be able to engage with. But, at the same time, unfortunately there are these negative pitfalls that can happen. It would just be nice to hopefully find more ways to do better on that front.”

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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31 comments on “Hamilton sent Latifi messages of support after social media abuse over Abu Dhabi GP”

  1. Old news really, but props to Lewis regardless. Now if only the rabid portion of his fanbase could grow up. Sadly though they’re more likely to continue spreading their toxicity until the day Lewis retires from Formula 1…at which point they’ll stop watching, as the only driver it’s “cool” to support is no longer there. In the days following Abu Dhabi I saw tons of said rabids on social media claiming they only watched the sport because of Hamilton. Yet they also claim to be experts. Utterly, utterly delusional on their part. Frankly they should take their football logic back to the soccer stadiums, and stay there. Keep that nonsense away from motorsport.

    1. I never understood fans in general, I don’t mean fans of sport, but of individual people. It’s somehow demeaning. Anyway, of course most of those fans will find a new idol, they are usually the first to jump ship. It will happen when Lewis retires, but it would also happen if he’d do something “improper” PR-wise or had a bad season or two. There are so many people who only support the best, as if that makes them better. Hamilton’s really consistent over the years so he avoided from hero to zero routine that footballers usually go through. He’s got all the respect he deserves really. He’s kind of disliked by many other F1 fans though, and I suspect those “fans” are responsible for that. They can reaaaally share negativity around.

      1. Interesting. Although I’ve always been fascinated by those on the opposite side. The anyone but Hamilton brigade. Each season they flit from driver to driver depending on who is his nearest challenger. In Ham’s case its been Rosberg, Seb, and then Max. It was the same for MS.
        Problem is with all these changes this year they can’t commit to either George or Max just yet.

    2. Nationalism, pure and simple.

      1. Yes, your simplicity shows in the assumption that people only support drivers or teams from their own countries – bless

    3. Silverstone….

    4. Singling out Lewis’s fans is pretty insulting and one-sided, you know.

      Social media on the whole has turned into a rabid cesspit of irresponsible hatred and egomaniacal self-absorbed nutcases banging on keyboards, and they don’t really care who they’re supporting, as long as they get to vent their pent-up sociopathic behavior at someone.

      Just go review the social media “scene” right after Silverstone.

    5. Yet he did nothing to publicly control his fans, because that didn’t serve his agenda.

      Tells you everything you need to know.

      1. Yup. In the same way Max did nothing after AD about his fans flooding Nic Hamilton’s social media with insults based on his disabilities. Obviously in that case they were serving Max’s agenda as they were using Max’s words.
        Tells you everything you need to know?

      2. Just curious, what part of disengaging from Social Media didn’t you get?

    6. They will probably find someone who resembles hamilton and keep watching, I thought to stop watching after 2006, but then the 2007 season looked interesting with hamilton vs raikkonen vs alonso, saw some 2008-2009 too, then stopped and missed the vettel era, and I think I went back to watching during the 2016 season, during which I actually wanted hamilton to win rather than rosberg given the unreliability difference; then there was the rise of verstappen, who reminds me of schumacher in some ways, so keeps things interesting, apart from that there’s also leclerc, norris and russell who are interesting rising stars.

      Nice of hamilton to send latifi a message following the episode.

    7. Carful not to get a little toxic and biased yourself Craig

  2. Did anyone even ask him to disclose the message?
    Either way, probably nothing extraordinary, just something like ‘stay strong, don’t care,’ etc.
    Generally, the threats he received were unacceptable & even unfair since Masi’s manipulation wasn’t his fault, after all.
    People should’ve never blamed him in the first place, only Masi & or FIA.

  3. Hamilton should have publicly condemned the abuse and threats that were being spouted in his name, but it is nonetheless commendable that he reached out to Latifi privately.

    1. I think Lewis publicly condemning it goes against the “Don’t feed the Trolls” maxim. His public silence was tactful in that way. Toto’s comments in the week afterwards left anyone who cared to know how the Merc felt aware. Other statements would have just rallied the zealots and given the trolls a reply/comment button.

      1. So condemning with silence…
        The problem with Toto was he already put fuel on a burning fire.
        Very well aware of the consequences and thus putting pressure on Fia.
        Of course Hamilton is not responsible for the actions of his fans. But some public reaction would have been nice.

        1. Your comments make me laugh everytime.

      2. “Don’t feed the trolls” works when we are referring to trolling in its original sense – posting inflammatory and stupid things in order to get a reaction out of people. But abuse and threats are not “trolling.”

    2. True, I could imagine hamilton doing that.

  4. I get not wanting to engage with these deranged people.

    I wish there had been a more constructive outreach to those whose disappointment had been instrumentalized and taken advantage of by parts of the media.

    1. I wish there had been a more constructive outreach to those whose disappointment had been instrumentalized and taken advantage of by parts of the media.

      +1 & +1

    2. Even this is a ‘news’ snippet that gets twisted by headline makers. English media headline: Hamilton sent supporting message to Latifi. Dutch media headline: Latifi needs to hire security after death threats. Both articles are 99% the same, but the difference in headlines really shows that the media will turn it in the way of the narrative they want to feed us.

  5. But.. Latifi’s crash should have led to a safety car finish and an unchallenged victory for Lewis?

    1. I understand WHY some hamilton fans got angry with latifi: hamilton was unchallenged all race, crash or no crash would’ve been no issue, the crash opened the chance for a last lap pass to happen, even though it could’ve also ended with a SC finish (but I always thought they’d have tried everything to get a non SC finish since it was a championship deciding race).

      1. @esploratore1 should have ended with a SC finish. If the rules had been followed, it would have done.

  6. You can’t possibly stick to the narrative of “wanting to end the last race with no Safety Car”.

    I mean, is this a sport governed with rules or entertainment made up on the whim?

    That being said, Max won, I (being a Merc fan) accept it. Bring on 2022!

    1. meant as a reply to @esploratore1 in the post just above this 1!

  7. LH should have done it publicly, so maybe his “fans” would let it go.

    1. Probably doesn’t get involved for the same reason Max doesn’t get involved in the constant desire by a section of his fans to bring back the ‘camps’ for Hamilton and the explicit details they go into on how he should be treated once he is there.
      Although I suspect most of these ‘fans’ are one and the same. A number of them are regularly exposed for being active on both anti-Max and anti-Ham sites.

      1. Interesting how some inmediatly go for whatatboutism…

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