Latifi added personal security after receiving death threats

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Latifi added personal security after receiving death threats

Formula 1

Latifi added personal security after receiving death threats


Nicholas Latifi says he stepped up security around himself in the wake of death threats he received following the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last year.

The Williams driver put out a statement in December explaining that he had received abuse and death threats because he crashed when fighting with Mick Schumacher, triggering the Safety Car that led to the controversial finish to the championship decider. Speaking after the launch of the FW44 for 2022, Latifi says he also took extra precautions in the wake of the threats.

“To be honest, it was something we considered,” Latifi said. “I think it sounds silly to some people but at the end of the day you don’t know how serious people are. All it could take is one drunk fan at an airport, or bumping into someone who’s having a bad day and is intoxicated or under the influence of something and has these really extreme opinions. All it takes is that one-in-a-million person.

“So yeah… some days I was back in London after the race and I did have some security with me when I was doing certain things. I went to the Winter Wonderland with my girlfriend because we didn’t manage to fit that in before the last block of races and I had some security detail with me on that. Again, it sounds funny, sounds silly, but we really did take the threats seriously because you don’t really know what could happen. Just an unfortunate part of the world we live in.”

As a result of his experience, Latifi has been looking at how he can get involved with different organizations to help those who receive online abuse, and says he was encouraged by the feedback he got at the time from other teams and drivers, including Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes.

“Obviously immediately after, as I wrote, I did take social media off my phone,” he said. “All the abuse that was coming, I expected. When I did switch my phone back on with those apps, it was clear they saw all the things that were coming in. As I said in the statement, a whole range of generally trolling online. I’m no stranger to it; I don’t think any sportsman is a stranger to the more hurtful or abusive comments. And there were the more extreme death threats and obviously that goes way over a line.

“The statement was quite important to make. As I mentioned at the beginning of it, I was debating what was the best way to go about addressing the whole situation of just ignoring it and returning to social media at some point as normal. I felt it was an important opportunity on my platform to spread an important message.

“For me it was not the nicest feeling; the first day. I think I got over it after two days, but there’s people that unfortunately maybe don’t deal with it so well for whatever reason and it can have extremely serious consequences. That’s why I thought it was important to spread this message of ‘be kind’.

“People who do these messages and write these messages are probably not going to change. The fact people feel the need to do so, that’s a whole separate issue really. But I felt writing this message was important and something I wanted to take a stand for.

“In terms of the support I got from it afterwards, Lewis did send me a message a few days after. Obviously I won’t go into details into what he said. I got some 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 encouraging to see. Everyone agreed with the whole sentiment and message and this has not been the only incident or a situation like this of online abuse.

“Even going outside of motor sport, the next most recent one was the Euros with the three (England) players missing the penalties and all the fallback they got after that. It’s just an issue we have 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 they wouldn’t normally be able to engage with. But at the same time it’s these negative pitfalls that can happen. (It) would just be nice to find more ways to do better on that front.”