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Latifi hired bodyguards following death threats

NEWS STORY
16/02/2022

Nicholas Latifi has revealed that following threats made against him as a result of his race-changing crash in Abu Dhabi, there were a number of occasions when he had to use bodyguards.

It was the Williams going into the barriers on the 51st lap of the season-ending race that changed the course of history.

As the safety car was deployed Max Verstappen immediately took the opportunity to pit for soft tyres, while Mercedes, fearing he would lose track position, left Lewis Hamilton out on track.

Meanwhile, race director, Michael Masi, who initially ordered lapped cars to hold position and not un-lap themselves, subsequently ordered those cars separating race leader Hamilton and second placed Verstappen - and only those lapped cars - to pass the safety car, thereby giving the Dutchman a free run at his rival.

The rest is history.

A couple of weeks after the race, Nicholas Latifi revealed that he had deliberately avoided social media in the days following the race die to the abuse he was receiving.

While we have all witnessed these pile-ons by the mob, and are aware that most are nothing more than keyboard warriors wanting to be part of something, anything, Latifi revealed that what he received went beyond abuse, and included death threats.

A a result he signed off from social media in an attempt to allow things to calm down, only returning in the days leading up to the launch of Williams latest contender.

Speaking after the car had made its track debut, the Canadian talked about the threats, revealing that he had had to resort to employing bodyguards on occasions.

"It sounds silly to some people but at the end of the day you don't know how serious people are," he told members of the media. "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.

"I was back in London after the race and I did have some security with me when I was doing certain things," he admitted. "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.

"There's people that unfortunately maybe don't deal with anger so well for whatever reason," he continued, "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 the ones that it's going to... they're 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."

The Canadian also revealed that in the aftermath of Abu Dhabi he received a text message from Hamilton. Though he wouldn't give details, he said it was similar to other messages of support he received from other members of the Mercedes team.

"Obviously the whole outcry of support on social media, from multiple drivers and teams across so many different disciplines, was really nice and encouraging to see," he added. "Obviously everyone agreed with the whole sentiment and message.

"This has not been the only instance of a situation like this with online abuse," he continued. "Even going outside of motorsport, the most recent one was probably the Euros with the three English players missing penalties and all the fall-back they got after that.

"It's an issue unfortunately we have in the world we have with social media. Social media brings a lot of good, gives people a lot of access to things that they wouldn't normally be able to engage with.

"But at the same time these negative pitfalls can happen. It would just be nice to find more ways to do better on that front."

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Great_white_shark, 18/02/2022 4:40

"I am not mad at him but he is definitely wasting a seat. Russell mopped the floor with him for a while now. If Williams cant deliver a top car, at least they need 2 good drivers to maximize results and develop it further. How will you develop it if you don't even know where the limit is?"

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2. Posted by Defiant, 16/02/2022 16:26

"The worlds gone mad. He's certainly not the Canadian that most would wish harm upon."

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