‘I want to protect her’: Norris opens up on horrifying death threats he and his girlfriend receive

Lando Norris has frequently used his fame to push for greater mental health awareness.

McLaren’s Lando Norris has been speaking candidly about the threats he and his girlfriend receive on social media ahead of this year’s British Grand Prix.

Norris has previously been transparent about his mental struggles during his debut season in Formula 1 in 2019, during which he admitted he was “depressed a lot of the time” owing to the pressure to perform and maintain his seat for 2020.

McLaren have been partnering with the “Mind” charity in recent years to raise awareness for mental health and suicide prevention services.

The 22-year-old was sent a death threat live on a Twitch stream several weeks ago, and the hate he has received on social media has only worsened since he went public with his relationship.

Luisinha Oliveira, a Portuguese model, is currently dating the six-time podium finisher, and she has received abhorrent abuse from Norris fans who seem to be jealous of her being with him.

READ: McLaren apologise to Ricciardo and Norris

A Twitter user named Luisa was even asked to change her name by a deluded fan who was offended by the mention of the name.

Oliveira herself frequently gets sent threats from social media users, and Norris has learned to become immune to the sad people that take time out of their day to abuse him and his partner online.

“I get death threats every now and then, most people do,” he said.

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“Not enough gets done and it is tough.

“If I had seen the threats when I started in 2019, it would have had more effect, but now I understand when you have to laugh – not laugh at a death threat – but laugh at the silly comments people come up with and things they try to create to get attention.

“I want to race, travel the world, meet new people and create new experiences – and they are using their one life sat behind a computer in their bedroom looking to try and ruin, annoy and bully someone.”

Some people create separate accounts with the sole purpose of harassing the couple, so the 22-year-old feels a responsibility to “protect” his girlfriend from the nasty trolls.

“The amount of hate pages on social media dedicated to Luisinha now is pretty horrific. Instagram and Twitter are the main ones and it is not an easy thing for her,” added Norris.

“She has gone from quite a normal life to suddenly having a lot of followers, so she has to be more careful with what she says and does.

“It is difficult for her to be involved in it so quickly. At least in racing, you kind of go through it slowly and learn to adapt to it – from Formula Four, Formula Three, Formula Two and then Formula One.

“But having gone from never watching a Formula One race to suddenly being in that limelight is extremely tough and then to have to read the comments, too, I want to protect her from that.”

Mental health issues are already a big factor as people develop and grow. Norris has a team of people around him who make sure that he remains true to the charming young man that the paddock knows and loves.

“My manager, my trainer, my parents, have always tried to keep me as me, rather than try to shape me,” he said.

“I see other drivers get shaped more because of who they are with, the teams they are with, and I don’t think that is a good thing. It takes away their personality.”

Elaborating on that, The Briton uses George Russell as an example of someone who he does not quite have the same relationship with these days.

This is not through anyone’s fault; Russell’s move to Mercedes from Williams to partner Sir Lewis Hamilton has simply made their dynamic a little different.

“Growing up with George for instance, was a lot of fun. He was a great person, but it is different at Mercedes – a different vibe and a different atmosphere. I just don’t see as fun a side of him,” explained Norris.

“George is a great person, and I feel like the personality he had a few years ago, he would be even more popular.

“I don’t think it is Mercedes’ fault but the pressure of being with Mercedes, and having Lewis as a team-mate, is never going to be an easy thing.

READ: Norris reveals key weakness of driver set to replace Ricciardo at McLaren

“You don’t want to be seen to be having a fun time and playing around, but on the other side there are no complaints because George is doing an amazing job this year, so it is working for him.”

Those in need of mental health services can contact “Mind” on 0300 123 3393, or email them on info@mind.org.uk.